31 March 2012

Street scenes of 19th-century Newcastle

Via The Guardian, "A remarkable set of original early glass negatives detailing everyday 19th-century street scenes has been found by Aaron Guy, who works at Newcastle's Mining Institute. Most are from Newcastle, but some in the collection are from other parts of the north-east. The photographer is unknown"


BIFHSGO presents: An Evening with Simon Fowler

A free special meeting event on Monday, April 2 -- An Evening with Simon Fowler is in the Auditorium, Library and Archives Canada, from 7:00-9:30 pm

Come and listen to this noted family history expert give two FREE lectures: 
Researching your Military Ancestors Online
British Emigration Records 
Simon Fowler is one of Britain’s most experienced family history teachers, writers and researchers. He specializes in military family history, with a particular focus on the First World War, and is the author of numerous well-regarded research guides and articles. Simon worked on and off for The National Archives/Public Record Office at Kew for over thirty years and edited their family history magazine Ancestors. He also teaches online military history courses for Pharos Tutors.
Brought to you by the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa as a public service.

BIFHSGO website success

Family history society websites are a much used resource. My recent Genealogy Activity Survey found that 90% of Canadian respondents (84), which included many British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa members, had visited a genealogy society website in the past month.

A bit over a year ago I posted that BIFHSGO had established a new website using the same address, bifhsgo.ca. A year later let's look at how it's been received.

Visits per day increased from 103 for the first three months (April-June 2011) to an estimated 120 (Jan-Mar 2012).

There was a big bump in visits in connection with the BIFHSGO conference, 166 per day in August and September.

Alexa rankings increased from 7,145,992 globally on 14 April 2011, to 4,938,796 on 18 July, to 2,045,032 on 1 November and now ranks 1,160,345 globally. In Canada bifhsgo.ca ranks 19,869.

Congratulations are due to Susan Davis and Brian Glenn for their success in establishing, promoting and keeping the site fresh. 

England, Scotland, and the Scottish Valuation Rolls for 1915

Because my last name is Reid some folks think I must be of Scots origin and also knowledgeable about Scottish genealogy. They're probably right on the first count, but so far I haven't been able to prove it. My earliest known Reid ancestor is found north of Hadrian's Wall in the mid 18th century, but not quite in Scotland, in the area known as the debatable lands where Armstrongs, Bells, Dacres, Grahams, Littles, Nixons, Reids and Rutherfords had seen centuries of conflict.

On the second knowledgeable part, ignorance is bliss.

My mother was born on Aberdeen, the daughter of a London-born musician only too happy to get employment wherever it could be found, so I could claim to be half Scot. Perhaps if Scotland votes for independence and issues its own passport that will be one more to add to my collection.

But having only set foot in Scotland twice, on one occasion only for a few hours, it's not a place for which I feel any affinity. Perhaps I've been rather turned off by the verse in Flanders and Swann's Song of Patriotic Prejudice:

"The Scotsman is mean, as we're all well aware
And bony and blotchy and covered with hair
He eats salty porridge, he works all the day
And he hasn't got bishops to show him the way!"
That's part of the back and forth, the latest of which is a BBC TV program How God Made the English. You only have to look at the presenter's name, Diarmaid MacCulloch, to recognize the objectivity likely applied to the analysis of what it means to be English. He argues that the English fallaciously think themselves to be: 1) better than others and duty-bound to play a leading role in world affairs, 2) among the most tolerant peoples in the world, and 3) quintessentially white, Anglo-Saxon and Church of England Christian. I detect a whiff of that other line from Michael Flanders, it's either "another triumph for Britain" or "England loses again."

But that's all by way of preamble to mentioning the Scottish Valuation Rolls for 1915 newly available on the ScotlandsPeople website. It so happens that was a year my mother's family were in Scotland. They were only temporary residents, would they be recorded?

The information on the rolls is name of occupant (head of household), address, occupation, rateable value, owner and owner's address. For three credits (for a limited time) you get to follow the search through to viewing an image of the original document.

For those not familiar with ScotlandsPeople, it's a pay per view site. You purchase credits, 30 for £7. They expire after 12 months unless more are purchased.

Subjugating my "The Scotsman is mean, as we're all well aware" tendencies, only after using the limited free search to establish there was a good chance of finding them, I registered and purchased credits.

It turned out successfully. My grandfather, easily found, was in Glasgow in a hotel or boarding house rather than in Aberdeen where I'd expected to find him. The image is of a printed page so the transcription should be quite reliable.

30 March 2012

WDYTYA: Rita Wilson survey

WDYTYA: Rita Wilson

Friday's WDYTYA episode (NBC, CITY at 8pm EDT) features actress Rita Wilson, born Margarita Ibrahimoff, who has a lengthy list of movie credits.

According to the promo she explores her Bulgarian roots and gets to meet a long-lost paternal uncle.

At 1.7 million Google hits for her name the episode seems likely to attract around 5 million viewers.

LAC budget cut 10%

Thanks to an anonymous contributor for the information that Thursday;s budget targets Library and Archives Canada for a budget cut of $3.5M in 2012-13. $6.6M in 2013-14 and $9.6M in 2014-15 and thereafter.

According to the LAC Report on Plans and Priorities for 2011-12 LAC's permanent spending authorities amount to $100 million. The budget means a long-term cut of approximately 10% implemented in three steps.

Six of the 14 components to the government's heritage portfolio are exempt from cuts, those being the national museums, gallery and the Canada Council for the Arts. Could the present LAC management direction, that the organization does not have the type of obvious public service role of those organizations, be behind the more draconian treatment of LAC?

One of the strategies the budget document claims Heritage will use is to "focus on funding that leverages contributions from partners." How will LAC do so, beyond existing initiatives such as "Lest We Forget?"

Ottawa Event Notice: Beechwood Cemetery historical tour

Here's an advance notice for your calendar on the Beechwood, Canada's National Cemetery, annual historical walking tour. In 2012 it will take place on Sunday, June 10th starting at 2pm. The tour theme this year is The Performing Arts at Beechwood which should bring out the best in the folks who animate the lives of the people remembered at the various memorials.

Genealogy Activity Survey: volunteering and contributing

Between March 19 and 25 responses from 150 people to a survey on genealogy activity were received.

This survey covers a highly selective group of engaged enthusiasts. To put them (us) in perspective, Ancestry claims 1.7 million subscribers; a typical episode of the present US series of Who Do You Think You Are? gets 5.8 million viewers. If an activity does not rate highly with this group, and the activity is aimed at the enthusiast market, it's missing the boat.

There were 133 responses from America (twice as many from Canada as the US), 14 from Europe (13 from the UK), 2 from Australia and 1 from Japan.

Respondents were asked to "indicate the most recent time period in which you've been involved in the following genealogy activities.

                                             Week   Month   Year   Decade  Never
Volunteered with a
genealogy society                   34%      15%      12%     12%     27%

61% of those responding had volunteered during the past year. Societies I know would be delighted, and perhaps even overwhelmed, if that was the organization experience. It could be that people belong to more than one society but restrict their volunteering to one, or, and perhaps more likely, those responding to this survey are more active. In Canada 65% had volunteered during the past year, in the UK 69% and the USA 59%.
                                                            Week   Month   Year   Decade  Never
Done online data entry/abstraction        22%      14%     18%      12%     27%

The percentage that had done such abstraction in the past year, 64%, is about the same as those who volunteered. This was less in the UK (39%), more in the US (67%).  Canada was in between at 52%. This surprised me given the success of the FreeBMD project, but remember the UK sample is small.

Only 55% of those who volunteered with a society had also done abstraction.

                                              Week   Month   Year   Decade  Never
Published a genealogy
oriented book, article or
website                                     10%     13%      15%      12%     49%

Perhaps the most surprising, and to me disappointing, result from the survey is that half of those responding had not placed the results of their research in a publication. In Canada that figure is 60% and in the US 53%. The UK is very significantly better at just 8% not having published.

While data online supplied by commercial interests is widely used they have not been as successful in facilitating publication by those same individuals.

29 March 2012

News from LAC

Here are four items of news about Library and Archives Canada.

1. LAC has posted its second podcast, this about the Lest We Forget Project a cooperative educational program that allows students access to military service files in person and online. It starts as a fairly bureaucratic puff piece about the program that failed to grab me, until actual examples were given. Worth a listen, don't get turned off at the start.

2. Following my comment posted to LAC's blog item on the 1921 Census Countdown a prompt response came that the 1921 census is only available in microfilm form, the original having been destroyed in 1955. This is both good and bad news, good in that digitization should be faster and cheaper, bad in that only a monochrome image will be available.

LAC also mention making jpeg and pdf format images available "shortly, after their release date of June 1, 2013." Will LAC be taking any initiative to expedite indexing by others?

Now items LAC likely won't be publicizing.

3. The self-digitization program at LAC allowed clients to digitize records. Those were supposed to become available online  ...  none that I know of have been so far.  Now I'm told the program is ended, the computer and person who assisted people disappeared last week. It was always billed as a pilot type project. Will we ever learn what LAC learned from the trial? When will LAC live up to the promise to make the product people digitized available?

4. Thanks to the anonymous person who posted a comment drawing attention to a french language, TVA News, March 19 article that LAC Assistant Deputy Minister Cecilia Muir is having her office refurbished at a cost of $40,000 at the same time program cuts and layoffs are occurring. It's an expense Heritage Minister James Moore is quoted as calling unacceptable.

Ancestry adds London and Surrey, England, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1597-1921

Created by individuals applying for marriage licenses in parishes in the Diocese of Winchester (Surrey) and the Diocese of London, England, these records typically give:

  • groom (name, age, marital status, occupation, parish)
  • bride (name, age, marital status, parish)
  • parish where the marriage was to take place
Age is often give as 21 and upwards. 

There are more than 750,000 records in the collection, another product of Ancestry's cooperation with the London Metropolitan Archives.

Genealogy Activity Survey: books, webinars and websites

Between March 19 and 25 responses from 150 people to a survey on genealogy activity were received.

This survey covers a highly selective group of engaged enthusiasts. To put them (us) in perspective, Ancestry claims 1.7 million subscribers; a typical episode of the present US series of Who Do You Think You Are? gets 5.8 million viewers. If an activity does not rate highly with this group, and the activity is aimed at the enthusiast market, it's missing the boat.

There were 133 responses from America (twice as many from Canada as the US), 14 from Europe (13 from the UK), 2 from Australia and 1 from Japan.

Respondents were asked to "indicate the most recent time period in which you've been involved in the following genealogy activities.

                                             Week   Month   Year   Decade  Never
Read a genealogy book           28%      30%      34%       6%      1%

Read a book for
historical context                    31%       28%     35%       7%      2%

The percentages appear much the same for these two questions. Geographically a larger fraction of people in the UK had read one of these types of books in the past week than in Canada and the US, but remember the UK sample is small.

                                              Week   Month   Year   Decade  Never
Listened to a genealogy
webinar or podcast                18%      35%      23%       3%      20%

The percent who had listened in the past month (53%) was within two percentage points in Canada, the UK and US. That's 20% more than attended a one day event such as a society meeting in the same one month period.

Genealogy Society Website

                                              Week   Month   Year   Decade  Never
Used a genealogy
society website                       59%      30%       8%       2%       1%

89% of respondents had used a society website during the month, exceeded only (just) by the percent that had used a commercial database and read a society magazine or newsletter. Does this mean that societies could drop printed magazines without impacting many people?

28 March 2012

Ancestry's Victoria Cross database

For all those UK (not other Commonwealth) folks in your family tree whose bravery was recognized with the Victoria Cross, Ancestry has posted a database based on the publication Victoria Cross Medals from the Naval and Military Press.

There were 1,354 awarded from the medal's establishment in 1857 to 2007.

Search from http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2483

Genealogy Activity Survey: databases, social networks and TV

Between March 19 and 25 responses from 150 people to a survey on genealogy activity were received.

This survey covers a highly selective group of engaged enthusiasts. To put them (us) in perspective, Ancestry claims 1.7 million subscribers; a typical episode of the present US series of Who Do You Think You Are? gets 5.8 million viewers. If an activity does not rate highly with this group, and the activity is aimed at the enthusiast market, it's missing the boat.

There were 133 responses from America (twice as many from Canada as the US), 14 from Europe (13 from the UK), 2 from Australia and 1 from Japan.

Respondents were asked to "indicate the most recent time period in which you've been involved in the following genealogy activities."

                                             Week   Month   Year   Decade  Never
Used a commercial
genealogy database.              82%      9%       6%        2%         1%

If you were looking for one number to illustrate the impact of databases on how people do family history it would be that 82% of respondents had used one in the past week. In the US the figure was 86%, Canada 84% and the UK 77%. For those who had not been to a multi-day genealogy event in the past year it was higher still - 88%.

Social Networks

                                            Week   Month   Year   Decade  Never
Used a social network
for genealogy.                       40%     14%     13%        3%       30%

While 40% overall had used a social network in the past week the UK had a greater use at 69%, Canada slightly less at 35%. Note that less than half the number of respondents had used a social network in the past week as used a genealogy database which should not be a surprise. Ancestry has an Alexa rank of 766; myheritage.com, the highest ranking genealogy social network is 3,179th on Alexa. Based on the higher penetration in the UK there's further opportunity for social networks in American genealogy.

                                            Week   Month   Year   Decade  Never
Watched a family history
oriented TV program
(such as Who Do You
Think You Are?)                  50%     21%     16%        3%       11%

The US version of WDYTYA was airing around the time of the survey. Overall 50% answered one week comprising 73% of US respondents, 44% of Canadians, and only 23% in the UK where reruns of a previous US series were showing.

Viewership within one year was 87% overall, 95% in the US, 84% in the UK and 81% in Canada perhaps reflecting the absence of a Canadian version of WDYTYA or any comparable Canadian programming.

The 11% who had never watched any such genealogy themed TV program were also much less likely to have used a social network than in the survey as a while.

Telling family tales

Here's a link to BIFHSGO colleague Brooke Broadbent's most recent FYIfamilyroots column from the March issue of Forever Young, Ottawa. Learn more about Brooke, his interests and read some of his other columns at brookebroadbent.com.

FamilySearch adds further Cornwall parish registers

FamilySearch has once again added to the Cornwall parish register images available, now 225 parishes, up from 183 parishes when I checked at the end of October. There are now a bit over 200,000 images. They are not name indexed.

Start at http://goo.gl/96ujg

27 March 2012

The 1921 Census of Canada

A blog post from Library and Archives Canada reveals the following key information about the 1921 census:

  • Census returns after 1916 are in the custody of Statistics Canada, not Library and Archives Canada. 
  • The 1921 Census was taken on June 1st, which means that it will be in the custody of Library and Archives Canada on June 1, 2013. Our intention is to make it available to researchers online, in the same format as previous censuses, as soon as possible after that date.
Will LAC please inform us:
 - in what form the census exists, microfilm, original pages, something else?
 - what measures are being taken to ensure "as soon as possible" is sooner rather than later?

Deceasedonline.com adds Chester's historic Overleigh Cemetery records

The following is a note from Deceased Online via Richard Gray.

Approximately 72,000 burial records for the older section of Overleigh Cemetery in the ancient northern English City of Chester have been added to the Deceased Online database.
The records date from 1850 to 1953; records for 1953 to October 2011, the Overleigh ‘New’ Cemetery, are already on www.deceasedonline.com.
The records comprise burial register scans and grave details; maps indicating grave locations will be added in the near future.
Overleigh Cemetery contains many historically interesting burials and beautiful memorials such as the celebrated ‘Queen of the Gypsies’, Mary Finney, and her husband Guilderoy Finney.
The Cemetery also has many records featuring Irish names so will be of interest to the Irish diaspora.
The total dataset for the council area, Cheshire West and Chester, now comprises over 200,000 burial and cremation records.
For further details, see the ‘database coverage’ section at www.deceasedonline.com

Findmypast.co.uk releases Westminster parish records

The following is a release from findmypast.co.uk via Debra Chatfield. Images did not appear when I tried the system at 7:45am EDT; the transcriptions were available.

Leading UK family history website findmypast.co.uk has today published online for the very first time parish records held by the City of Westminster Archives Centre.  The Westminster Collection at findmypast.co.uk comprises fully searchable transcripts and scanned images of the parish registers, some of which are over 400 years old. 
The 1,365,731 records launched today cover the period 1538-1945 and come from over 50 Westminster churches including St Anne, Soho, St Clement Danes, St George Hanover Square, St James Westminster, St Margaret Westminster, St Martin-in-the-Fields, St Mary-le-Strand, St Paul Covent Garden. 
Debra Chatfield, family historian at findmypast.co.uk, said: "The Westminster Collection is one of the largest regional parish record collections we have ever published online and contains some truly wonderful gems. Family historians, wherever they are in the world, can now search this historical goldmine and uncover the fascinating stories of their London ancestors." 
Today's launch marks the start of a painstaking project to preserve digitally the City of Westminster Archives Centre's collection, and sees the first tranche of its baptisms, marriages and burials go online. The remaining records are set to go live over the coming months, along with cemetery registers, wills, rate books, settlement examinations, workhouse admission and discharge books, bastardy, orphan and apprentice records, charity documents, and militia and watch records. 
Adrian Autton, Archives Manager at Westminster Archives commented: "The launch of the Westminster Collection is of huge significance making Westminster records fully accessible to a global audience. This resource will be of immense value to anyone whose ancestors lived in Westminster and to anyone wishing to study the rich heritage of this truly great city." 
The records can now be searched free of charge by visiting the Life Events (BMDs) section at findmypast.co.uk, and then selecting parish baptisms or marriages or burials. Transcripts and images can be viewed with PayAsYouGo credits, vouchers or a full subscription to findmypast.co.uk. 
The new Westminster Collection at findmypast.co.uk joins a growing resource of official parish records from local archives, including Cheshire Archives & Local Studies, Manchester City Council and Plymouth and West Devon Records Office, with many more in the pipeline and due to go live in the coming months. In addition over 40 million parish records from family history societies can be found at findmypast.co.uk in partnership with the Federation of Family History Societies.

Early bird registration deadline for OGS conference looms

The early bird rate for the OGS conference in Kingston, 1-3 June, is just days away. Go to http://www.ogs.on.ca/conference2012/registration by 31 March to save today.

Susan Crean on the importance of LAC

Many Canadian governmental organizations are expected to suffer major cuts in the coming budget, but Library and Archives Canada also has to deal with leadership with no vision for the place of the organization in Canada's cultural life.

Author and journalist Susan Crean has recorded a short video discussing the importance of Library and Archives Canada to writers in support of the Canadian Association of University Teachers campaign to Save Library and Archives Canada.

Link at http://www.savelibraryarchives.ca/default.aspx

Genealogy Activity Survey: magazines and events

Between March 19 and 25 responses from 150 people to a survey on genealogy activity were received.

This survey covers a highly selective group of engaged enthusiasts. To put them (us) in perspective, Ancestry claims 1.7 million subscribers; a typical episode of the present US series of Who Do You Think You Are? gets 5.8 million viewers. If some activity does not rate highly with this group, and the activity is aimed at the enthusiast market, it's missing the boat.

There were 133 responses from America (twice as many from Canada as the US), 14 from Europe (13 from the UK), 2 from Australia and 1 from Japan.

Respondents were asked to "indicate the most recent time period in which you've been involved in the following genealogy activities."
                                             Week   Month   Year   Decade  Never
Read a commercial
genealogy magazine.              33%     24%     27%     6%       10%
Read a non-profit
(Society) genealogy
magazine or newsletter,        45%      45%      7%      3%         1%

90% of respondents had read a society magazine or newsletter within the past month. That was found across Canada, the UK and US. By comparison somewhat over half (57%) had enjoyed a commercial genealogy magazine, a percentage that was greater in the UK (69%) which is home to a greater choice of family history magazines. All but one UK respondent had looked at a commercial magazine within the past year.


                                             Week   Month   Year   Decade  Never
Attended a single-day
genealogy event.                   10%     22%     37%     15%       16%
Attended a multi-day
genealogy event                      1%      9%      46%     20%       24%

Fewer people attend genealogy events than read genealogy magazines, and fewer go to multi-day events than single-day. Respondents from Canada were more likely to have participated in an event. About 60% of those in the UK and US hadn't participated in a multi-day event in the past year.
Those who have attended a multi-day event in the past year are more likely (91%) to have read a commercial magazine, and a society magazine (97%) in the past year than those who haven't.

26 March 2012

Highlights of the Genealogy Activity Survey

150 responses were received to the survey between March 19 and 25, of which:

82% had used a commercial genealogy database within the past week
90% had read a non-profit (Society) genealogy magazine or newsletter within the past month
97% had used a genealogy society website within the past year
49% have never published a genealogy-oriented book, article or website.

There were 133 responses from America (twice as many from Canada as the US), 14 from Europe (13 from the UK), 2 from Australia and 1 from Japan.

Watch for more detailed results coming soon.

An epigenetics primer

In family history we wonder how children from the same family can turn out so differently. Now science is developing an understanding of how the expression of genes can be modulated.

"Epigenetics is the most monumental explanation to emerge in the social and biological sciences since Darwin .."

"Scientists now hypothesize that epigenetic factors play a role in the etiology (cause) of many diseases, conditions and human variations—from cancers, to clinical depression and mental illnesses, to human behavioral and cultural variations."

Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist, writes this short explanation of epigenetics in response to the question "What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?

FreeBMD March update

The FreeBMD Database was last updated on Sunday 25 March 2012 and currently contains 214,279,072 distinct records (271,156,806 total records).
As usual there are a small number of changes in most years in this update. The years with major additions, over 5,000 index entries, are for births 1939-40, 1943-45, 1949, 1955-62; for marriages  1920, 1952-55, 1958, 1960-62; for deaths 1951, 1953, 1955, 1957-62.

25 March 2012

PBS: Finding Your Roots

Even for someone without a US background, with none of the personal emotional investment in the family histories and associated social history, the investigation of the four personalities on PBS Finding Your Roots on Sunday evening made compelling television. The highlight for me was the use of autosomal DNA to establish the identity of a maternal great grandfather by comparing second cousin's DNA.

It does not appear as if episodes will be streamed after the show. There is a promo video and other background at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/finding-your-roots/.

Interesting that PBS was able to attract high profile sponsors in The Coca-Cola Company, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s and American Express.

The DNA samples were shown being taken with cheek swabs, which Family Tree DNA uses whereas the person interviewed was from 23andMe which uses spittle sampling. The results for partition between European, African and Asian background looked like those from 23andMe rather than FTDNA.

US to Canada border entry records, 1908-1918 and 1925-1935 at LAC

LAC announces free to all access at the LAC website to digitized reels of Canada border entry records, 1908-1918 and 1925-1935. You can now access 121,302 images of immigration records. They are not name indexed.
Start at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/microform-digitization/006003-130-0012-e.html?PHPSESSID=6h8gs14fsfbfcjqdtdqldt9k46 to understand the records and identify the reel or reels of interest. Then go to http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/microform-digitization/006003-110.02-e.php?&q2=30 for a clickable list of microfilm numbers.

These records were made available, name indexed, in April 2009 by Ancestry.ca. If LAC were interested in being helpful to researchers, rather than just announcing the availability of reel images on their site, they would surely have made the availability of a name indexed version known in their announcement.

Birmingham, Children's Lives

Children's Lives is an exhibition that opened on Saturday at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s Gas Hall and runs to June 10.

Making a trip to Britain to see the display is prohibitively expensive, and one might in any case be discouraged from doing so by blatant bias in portraying the situation of children who came to Canada in BBC History magazine. Yet the exhibition is of broader scope.

According to information at: http://www.connectinghistories.org.uk/childrenslivesinfo.asp The Children's Lives project website will provide "a substantial digital presence which will echo the physical exhibition while also incorporating galleries of additional archival material" It is "presently UNDER CONSTRUCTION and will go live soon..."

There are also Children's Lives Blogs:
http://birminghamchildrenslives.wordpress.com is a series of blog entries by the project team allowing visitors to keep up with activities around the exhibition and website.
http://youngpeoplesarchive.wordpress.com is a blog written by the two school groups where they can communicate with each other, both within their own school and with the partner school, along with the project team at Birmingham Archives & Heritage.
A third blog will provide an historical aspect by recounting school days from the past.


24 March 2012

Toronto Branch OGS - Great War Workshop - Update

Via Gwyneth Pearce, some late-breaking news from the co-ordinator of “Finding Your Great War Ancestors”, the family history workshop coming up in just a few days, presented by the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society and the Canadiana Department of North York Central Library.

First, we’re excited to announce that registrants at this day-long workshop on Saturday 31 March are in for an added treat – we’ve managed to squeeze in a special bonus lecture during the lunch break on the identification of soldiers’ remains:

Special Bonus Lunchtime Lecture
The Identity Hunters
Janet Roy
Janet Roy is a forensic genealogist, the Genealogical Coordinator for funeral-services company MacKinnon & Bowes and a contractor for the Department of National Defence for which she helps identify the remains of missing soldiers by finding living relatives for DNA testing. She has participated in this process since the first breakthrough in 2007, the identification of the remains of Great War soldier, Private Herbert Peterson. Other successes have followed and Janet is currently working on eleven cases of remains recovered in France. Her 20-minute presentation describes the identification process and includes a basic explanation of DNA testing.

Second, we have been assured that the workshop will not be affected by any labour disruption involving library or city workers.

Finally, if you aren’t signed up for “Finding Your Great War Ancestors”, and are now wishing you were, you’re in luck. There are still spaces available! Pre-registration is preferred but we are also happy to accommodate walk-in registrants on the day of the event. For full program and registration details, visit the Toronto Branch website at www.torontofamilyhistory.org.

Manitoba probate records at FamilySearch.org

Almost lost in the flood of 230 record sets added to FamilySeach.org so far in March, mostly replacements for the IGI, are images of Manitoba Probate Records, 1871-1930. The over 800,000 browseable images are for the judicial districts named:
Central, Dauphin, Eastern, Manitoba, Northern, Southern, St. Boniface, Western.
Most contain Estate and Index files, except Northern which has no index files and Manitiba.

I'm not sure I quite got the hang of searching these records, but Manitoba appears to be a consolidation for all districts. It has Application book, Application book index and Registrars index. Starting with either index book will lead to a reference in the Application book giving the place and date of death, who dealt with the probate and when which may lead you to one of the other districts for the document details.

If I'm misleading please post a clarification as a comment.

Finding Your Roots

"Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr." is a PBS series akin to Who Do You Think You Are? with what for me is a more interesting guest list.

Starting on Sunday, 25 March "the 10-part series hosted by Henry L. Gates Jr., will explore the genealogy and genetics of famous Americans. Featured in the first, double, episode are Harry Connick, Jr., Branford Marsalis, Cory Booker and John Lewis.

Others featured in the series are Kevin Bacon, Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, John Legend, Condoleezza Rice, Martha Stewart, Wanda Sykes, Barbara Walters and Rick Warren."

Check for the station and time (8 pm Eastern) in your area. Many PBS programs are widely available online after broadcast at http://video.pbs.org/

23 March 2012

WDYTYA: Helen Hunt survey

Genealogy problems persist after 79 years

Donald Lines Jacobus (1887-1970) was renowned as the dean of American genealogy of his day. In August 2009 I raised the ire of, and received an education from, several people who added comments to a posting suggesting some outdated genealogy books that should no longer be on the shelves of our public libraries. One of those I mentioned was Jacobus's "Genealogy as pastime and profession" published in 1968.

On Thursday Mick Southwick on his British & Irish Genealogy blog provided a link to a Jacobus article Is Genealogy An Exact Science? first published in The American Genealogist, Volume 10, Page 65 (October 1933). The article defuses the title question in the second line with the statement "there are no exact sciences."

He proceeds to a subjective evaluation of degrees of exactness and opines that "Genealogy, as one of the sciences in which human nature is a factor, is considered to be one of the less exact sciences."

Science is a human activity so human nature is always a factor. What Jacobus advocates is that "proper scientific methods" be pursued in genealogy. He adds that "no one who lacks a mathematical mind can hope to become a genealogist of the very first rank."

When Jacobus wrote "the paternity of every child in a human pedigree is a matter of faith, or belief, not of proved fact" in 1933 he did not anticipate genetic genealogy.

Today we should expect a genealogist of the very first rank, which should mean every professional genealogist, to know how to use the tools of genetic genealogy to "go behind (beyond) the official records." Today hiring a certified or accredited genealogist is no guarantee they are literate in genetic genealogy.

Jacobus ends the article by exploring reasons a scientific approach is not adopted: laziness, ignorance, expense and unpopularity, and concludes that "genealogy in this country today is very far from being an exact science." If understanding of DNA as a tool for genealogy is not a requirement for genealogy professionals are we today any closer to the scientific approach Jacobus championed 79 years ago?

PRI's perspective on genetic genealogy

Roots 2.0: Using DNA to Trace My Ancestry is a feature with audio interviews from  PRI's The World, which bills itself as "global perspectives for an American audience." The presentation is fairly non-technical with emphasis on autosomal DNA testing through 23andMe. PRI producer Carol Zall relates her experience building on an old taped interview with her grandmother.

There are a couple of related blog postings on the site:

Genetic Genealogy: A Powerful Tool for the Family Historian, by Blaine Bettinger
Ready to Test Your DNA: How To Choose A Genetic Testing Company, by Daniel MacArthur

WDYTYA: Helen Hunt

This evening's subject for the NBC series Who Do You Think You Are? is Oscar-winning best actress Helen Hunt.

A Google search for "Helen Hunt" found a little over 6 million hits, better known than a couple of the other subjects this series. The program might attract 6 million viewers, more or less depending on the competition on other channels and other attractions.

It airs at 8pm EDT on NBC and CITY TV in Canada.

22 March 2012

Prospects for genetic genealogy

An interesting and very readable article Philately & DNA (pdf) by Robert M. Bell and Robert S. Blackett, from the March 2012 issue of American Philatelist, offers hope that as technology advances and costs decrease recovering DNA, and not only mitochondrial DNA, from sources such as licked stamps and envelopes might become a reralistic option for genealogy.


Quick Internet tip

A few months ago I tried to log onto my Ottawa Public Library account and mis-typed the account number, pressed return and got an error message. Ever since when trying to log on I've been offered the erroneous number and have had to replace the 6 I mis-typed with a 5.

The other day I learned you can delete the offending offering by ensuring it's highlighted and pressing Ctrl-Del. It works for other things, perhaps you may have embarrassing search terms you want to delete such as happened the time you wanted to search for pork and by accident hit n rather than k.

21 March 2012

Ancestry adds UK, Land Tax Redemption, 1798

These records list names of both owners and occupants of property in England and Wales subject to the national land tax as of 1798.

The amount assessed is recorded although properties valued at under 20 shillings per year were officially exempted from paying land tax. You may still find owners and occupiers on the list.

From 1798, the tax could be redeemed or exonerated with a lump sum payment equivalent to 15 years’ annual tax in which case a redemption date is recorded.

The list is by community, but the property details are not recorded.

With over 1.1 million records this is akin to a mini-head of household census.
The source is "Land Tax Redemption Office: Quotas and Assessments. IR23. Records of the Boards of Stamps, Taxes, Excise, Stamps and Taxes, and Inland Revenue. The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, England."

Improved search engines for cwgc.org and Ottawa's first WW1 fatality

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission was a pioneer in placing their data online, but over the years the search capability fell behind.
The formatting of the search box was updated over the years from this basic 1999 version but the functionality remained. The limitation to initial(s), not full first name(s), was particularly frustrating, and stayed that way until recently.

Now there's a fully functional search capability, including a key word search for any word in the database.
I tested it by searching for Ottawa which would appear in the Additional Information field, then sorted to find the first Ottawa fatality.
Alexander Campbell died on the 19th of October 1914 and is buried at Beechwood Cemetery. There was a grave reference so I took advantage of fine weather to search out the grave.

The CWGC headstone to the left is dwarfed by the family stone which includes the information that he was Capt Alexander Campbell BSc, and that his wife was Ellen Margaret Living who died in 1923. His Ontario death certificate gives the cause of death as cerebrial haemorrhage.
There is an informative three paragraph obit in the Ottawa Citizen. He never got further east than Valcartier returning home when he fell ill.
On the side of the stone is an inscription that Norman Gordon Campbell (1892-1917) was killed in France. His CWGC record gives only initials, N. G. and provides no additional information. Not all Ottawans who died will be found by searching Ottawa in the CWGC files.

Maybe you noticed the plural in the title .. search engines.

Via Rootsweb's GENBRIT list, for WW2 "Geoff's (Wonderful) Search Engine" at http://www.hut-six.co.uk/cgi-bin/search39-47.php provides additional capabilities.

Digital literacy and the digital divide in genealogy

Literacy represents a person’s ability to read, write, and solve problems using both spoken and written language. Digital literacy is the ability to apply those same skills using technology such as desktop computers, ebook readers and smartphones.
That's a definition from the New York Library Association.

Although digitally literacy is increasing rapidly, virtually everyone now in the workforce and the newly retiring is digitally literate, the age structure of those interested in family history means there is still a substantial proportion of the community who are uncomfortable with or even antagonistic to computers. There's a digital divide.

Family history societies can help with education, but still need to make accommodations as they introduce digital media and methods. The Ontario Genealogical Society recently fully converted their NewsLeaf newsletter to online, but left open the option of receiving a hardcopy on request. They hope the demand will be small enough they can run off the required number on a photocopier.

Technology doesn't stand still. A new digital divide is rapidly opening up involving mobile computing and smartphones. Smartphone sales have overtaken those of desktop and laptop computers. 35% of all adults use a smartphone in the US. How is the genealogical community moving to adapt?

  • Ancestry have an app for where you can work on your family tree from a smartphone, not just view the information you have in the Ancestry cloud but view original records (with subscription). You can update your tree and add new information and people. There are others with which I have no experience.
  • FamilySearch has produced an app for people who want to help index the US 1940 census on a smartphone.
  • Accessibility to podcasts, such as the Genealogy Guys and Genealogy Gems.
  • Genealogy magazines, such Family Chronicle, Internet Genealogy and Family Tree (UK) are available for smartphones as well as in hardcopy.
  • If you read this, and some other genealogy blogs on a smartphone the information is formatted for the device.
  • Conferences have their own app meaning you don't have to lug around a conference program or syllabus book. You get updates as soon are they're posted.
  • Conferences are making facilities available to permit attendees to spread the word about what's happening, and so raise interest in a new generation, through social networks. 
Is your family history or genealogy society embracing the trend?

QFHS: A Genealogy Day in England

The folks at the Quebec Family History Society have asked I repost about A Genealogical Day in England, the first installment of their Spring all day seminars, on March 31st. Information about this and other event being organized by the QFHS is at http://qfhs.ca/events.php

20 March 2012

Counteracting the decline of genealogical societies

Last October FGS radio, hosted by Thomas McEntee, featured a session with guest Randy Whited with the provocative title "If your society folded today would anyone care." It's still available.

It was timely as one of our local societies here in Ottawa had raised the issue with their members.  A blog post Volunteering Outside the Box by Mike More reinforced a mock branch obit published in the branch newsletter appealing for members to step up and take on board responsibilities.

One of the issues touched on by McEntee, almost in passing, was that of breakaway groups dissatisfied with an existing society and moving to form another.  It's what happened in Ottawa getting on for 20 years ago.  As I understand, it was before I was involved, a group of local people got tired of sending subscriptions to the OGS provincial organization in Toronto which they didn't find addressed their needs or provided value for money. These were people with British or Irish ancestry; statistically that's a large majority of Canada's anglophone population.

The result is that Ottawa has two large primarily genealogy/family history societies with roughly equal membership. Quite a few people belong to both. In most cases the societies work together reasonably harmoniously. Ottawa Branch of OGS focuses on those with Ottawa valley roots, and includes a substantial proportion of remote members. BIFHSGO attracts mostly members local to the Ottawa area with British and/or Irish roots.

To return to the FGS radio session. Some of the notes I took during the session are:

How do/can societies measure success, do they measure success?
If you can't measure it, you can't manage it
If you keep doing the same thing you've always done you're going to get the same result.
Genealogy societies should be run in a more business-like (which does not mean  less friendly) manner.
Societies need to periodically (annually) take a hard at where they are and set goals for the year, and five years.
Being welcoming to newcomers is an important aspect of attracting new members.
Have a greeter at the door of your meetings.
If someone does volunteer engage them immediately, not 3 - 6 months later.
The potential new members are likely those with an interest in family history but limited knowledge. Go out into the community to find these folks at fairs and shopping centres.
Consider setting aside time before presentations for newcomers.
Encourage special interest groups
Encourage long distance members through a "virtual chapter."
If you can put your monthly meeting presentation online you serve not only the remote members but also those who can't attend that particular meeting.
Societies with great programs attract members
Avoid being too academic as it turns off new members. Don't tell people they're doing things the wrong way or preach (did I hear "cite your sources").
Remember that for most people genealogy is the path, the goal is an output such as a quilt, photo collection, book, website. Focus on helping them achieve the goal.
A stale society website is a good indication that nothing much is happening.

I have some additional thoughts about the troubling paradox in the genealogical community that membership in genealogical and family history societies is declining, in some cases dramatically, while baby boomers, prime member candidates, are retiring. It should also be a boom time for family history societies.

Why isn't that happening?

Some people think it has to do with the increased availability of family history resources online. Today you don't need to find out about the intricacies of local records, or of searching patiently through unindexed microfilm data when everything is easily searchable online. While you and I know that everything isn't online what's the perception? We are told in TV ads that you don't even have to know what you're looking for. Perception has a habit of becoming reality, or what passes for reality on television.

While online data availability may have something to do with it I don't think it's the whole story.

The most loyal members of any society are those who have served in a board or other volunteeer capacity. Having invested significant amounts of their own time they don't want to see the organization  fail.

Many societies experience a lack of people who have served in such a capacity because in the past no one came forward to take on those roles. The same people continued on and the society kept going. In fact the existing programs prospered because of experienced leadership - until burnout.

Had the same people not continued to serve the society might have failed some years ago.

But it also means that a younger generation of ex-board members and other volunteers are not there to boost the society with a new generation. And let's face it, you have better luck recruiting people to the society through the networks of enthuiastic existing members inviting a friend or colleague to attend a meeting. Catch them and those younger generations will network with and attract younger generations.

You may think you can get around this by advertizing and gaining media publicity. But only the extroverts amongst us are comfortable going into a setting where they don't know anyone. The occasional introvert may wander in and unless someone steps up to welcome them find themselves feeling very much an outsider.

Do you think family history attracts more extroverts or introverts?

What can be done?

In the long term consider term limits on board membership. People who've served two terms should seriously think about whether continuing is in the long-term interest of the organization they've worked so hard to support. Ex board members can still continue to serve, and be encouraged to play the role of ambassador, just as retired politicians are often appointed ambassadors in the world of diplomacy.

Legacy webinar: DNA Research for Genealogists: Beyond the Basics

Some of the best genealogy webinars are those organized by Geoff Rasmussen for Legacy Family Tree. They're free, even if you're not a Legacy user.

Coming up this Wednesday, 21 March, at 2pm EDT is DNA Research for Genealogists: Beyond the Basics presented by Ugo Perego. The blurb is:

Among the tens of thousand of individuals that have already experienced the novelty of genetic testing for ancestral or genealogical purposes, many are still wondering about the real benefits that such testing may bring to their family history repertoire. Few individuals may have given in to pressure by others, or simply for curiosity. Whether you have been already tested and are still wondering about what all those letters and numbers from your genetic genealogy report mean, or whether you are contemplating if DNA testing for family history is something for you, this lecture will offer you some online tools that are available to interpret your results and get the most out of your genetic testing. We will also focus on a few successful DNA genealogy cases and conclude with a description of consultation services available to those that think genetic genealogy is an exciting field, but fear it is too complex of a tool to them.
Register and find out about other Legacy webinars scheduled, at http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/webinars.asp

TNA podcast: Digitised newspapers as sources for family history

As I finish preparing syllabus material for my talk Your Family History in Canadian and British Newspapers at the OGS conference in June I was pleased to come accoss this presentation in the TNA podcast series from Ed King, head of Newspaper Collections at the British Library. I met and was impressed by Ed several years ago at a symposium at LAC, the last time they pretended to pay any serious attention to newspapers.

In the short podcast presentation he starts with a brief history of the British Library newspaper collection, gives and idea of its scope and development, and then moves on to discuss the British Newspaper Archive (BNA), the latest initiative which should see 40 million pages of newspapers digitized over 10 years.

I had an experience with the BNA in the last few days which reinforced a lesson I didn't learn well enough yet. When faced with a transcript or index entry we're taught to always go back and check the original. That competes with a life lesson - on economy, don't spend more for something than needed.
I was searching in the British Newspaper Archive and found a snippet on the death of my four times great grandfather Robert Digby in 1802. Right name, right year, right pub. But at quick reading it seemed the other information conflicted with what I thought I knew, he was not in the 54th year of his age.

When I paid to see the original it read "Sunday last died, greatly regretted, after a lingering illness, aged 34, Mr. Robert Digby, of the Red Lion Inn, Barrow.
Monday last died, after a long illness, in the 54th year of his age, the Rev...."

None of the critical text in red is in the snippet, I missed the period after Barrow, and tuned out ", the Rev ..."

19 March 2012

A serious abdication of responsibility at Library and Archives Canada


Hidden East Anglia

A website of places and things of East Anglia, especially Norfolk and Suffolk, and the weird tales that people have told of them.  It has stories of ancient burial mounds, old stones, crossroads, pits, remarkable trees, graves, secret tunnels, beacons, bowers, ponds, earthworks, crosses, effigies, holy wells, hills, ancient dykes, churches, pillars, bridges, fields, moats, meres.....

A webinar on webinars

Saturday's OGS Ottawa Branch meeting was held at the Ottawa Central Archives, and also in Cardinal and the Toronto area. It was the branch's first effort to serve members through a members-only webinar, and appropriately the topic was genealogy webinars.
While I doubt anyone in the branch would claim it was entirely successful, there were several technical glitches, the message of Heather Oakley's presentation did mainly get through. She demonstrated parts of genealogy webinars from Ancestry, Legacy, technology webinars of interest to family historians, and mentioned the geneabloggers compilation of genealogy webinars, past and future, at: http://www.geneabloggers.com/geneawebinars-directory-upcoming-genealogy-webinars/
Congratulations to Ottawa Branch for taking the initiative.
The Branch's next presentation is by Susan Davis, BIFHSGO's Director of Communications. Perhaps the experience of presenting a webinar will encourage her to pursue the initiative for BIFHSGO members and presentations

18 March 2012

Genealogy fraud

There's something fascinating about rogues, those who perpetrate fraud in genealogy being no exception.

A recent post by Elizabeth Kipp on her travails over Horatio Gates Somerby's frauds in the Blake family, he also messed with Ottawa's Billings family, led me to a reprint from a 2001 issue of Family Chronicle magazine, Beware of Fraudulent Genealogies. Some are:

Gustave Anjou (1863-1942), Charles Henry Browning (1841-1923), Harriet Bainbridge De Salis (1829-1908), Brian Leese (1931-1989), Orra E. Monnette (1873-1936), Charles Arthur Hoppin (1866-), Frederick Adams Virkus (1879-1955), Horatio Gates Somerby (1805-1872), John S. Wurts (1876-1958),

In keeping with the nature of their work, no effort has been spared expended in ensuring the accuracy of the dates above.

Breakthrough cases using deceasedonline.com

While in London at Who Do You Think You Are? Live I had a good conversation with Richard Grey who is head of marketing for deceasedonline.com. He let me in on some of the databases coming along which will add half as many entries again to the existing database this year. Reprints of a short article from the March issue of WDYTYA magazine were available at the stand featuring some of the successes people have had using the service, one of them Canadian. The article is now online at http://goo.gl/8DiSA

Glenn Wright on, not in, Kingston Pen

At OGS Conference 2012, Glenn Wright is making three presentations.

On Both Sides of the Bars: Kingston Penitentiary Records for Family History, is the main subject of this interview, virtually a mini-presentation, recorded with Glenn earlier in the month.

Glenn will also be presenting, jointly with Lesley Anderson, From There to Here: Searching Immigration Records From Ancestry.ca and Beyond; and is the after-dinner speaker at the Banquet, on Sex, Lies and Archives.

http://www.ogs.on.ca/conference2012/archives/2826 or directly to http://www.ogs.on.ca/conference2012/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Glenn-Wright-for-OGS.mp3

Also, Glenn is prominent on the program for the OGS Toronto Branch workshop Finding Your Great War Ancestors on 31 March.

17 March 2012

Genealogy Activity Survey

Please complete the following survey. By understanding your activities genealogy organizations are in a better position to serve you. Click here to start.

St Patrick's Day gift

It's a gift to come across a well written and informative blog, and an Irish blessing to find one so close to St Patrick's Day on Irish genealogy.

Irish Genealogy News is a blog by Claire Santry that's been going since mid-2010, one that's now seeing an increasing number of postings. Check it out, and especially the news about Irish Wills, at http://irish-genealogy-news.blogspot.com/

Happy St Patrick's Day

16 March 2012

News about Toronto workshop "Finding Your Great War Ancestors"

The following is news from Paul Jones about the March 31 Toronto workshop, "Finding Your Great War Ancestors"

Unfortunately the previously announced closing-plenary speaker, Tim Cook, has had to withdraw for personal reasons. We thank Tim for his support of the Workshop and his ongoing contributions to Great War scholarship.
Feeling that an upbeat, forward-looking way to end the day would be a primer for those interested in planning a Battlefields tour, the program committee has put together a session that combines practical advice and audience Q&A. Here's the description of the new session:
Closing Plenary: Planning a Battlefields Tour
Linda Reid and a panel of experienced travellers
Researchers planning a visit to the Great War Battlefields have several options to consider, including package tours, do-it-yourself trips and bespoke tours. Linda Reid recently went on a five-day bespoke Battlefields tour with three generations of her family. This session is anchored by a 30-minute presentation in which she will share her experiences and offer tips and some "dos and don'ts" on organizing a tour of your own. Linda will then be joined on the stage by Simon Fowler, Glenn Wright and another Toronto Branch member to be announced. They will discuss and elaborate on Linda's presentation, as well as take questions from the audience. This panel will provide an invaluable and practical learning opportunity for anyone who may ever take a Battlefields tour. It will be entertaining for all.
This change to the closing plenary leaves us in turn with an opening in Session E3 where Linda's presentation was originally scheduled. Fortunately James Thomson has a new lecture that will be of great interest...
New component of Session E3: Using Maps in Great War Research
James F.S. Thomson

Exploring maps and related resources can lead to a much-enhanced understanding of an ancestor's experience of the Great War. This 30-minute lecture introduces some of the most interesting Great War maps and ancillary records available to the researcher, and identifies ways of accessing them in and from south central Ontario.
Any registrant whose decision to attend was predicated on Tim Cook's participation should send me a note at announcements@torontofamilyhistory.org.
If you'd like to change your choice for concurrent Session E3, please drop me a note at the same address.
The Workshop is shaping up to be a top-notch experience. All of us involved cannot wait until the 31st, when we look forward to meeting you..

For complete information about the Workshop, please visit:

Durham Records Online

Durham Records Online is a pay per view service, recently mentioned on British GENES and new to me, intended to help genealogists find their ancestors in County Durham, England.

It offers transcribed extracts from many parish registers (christenings, confirmations, marriages, burials) including some Northumberland and Yorkshire parishes that border County Durham and transcriptions of all marriages in Anglican (Church of England) churches in County Durham from the beginning of 1813 to the beginning of civil registration in July 1837. There are also some census transcriptions.

There's no need to register to perform a free search.

Check out the statistics on the 50 most common occupations in the county in censuses from 1841 to 1891, and some of the more unusual occupations found in the censuses, at  http://www.durhamrecordsonline.com/occupations.php

OGS Ottawa Branch March meeting

Next Saturday, March 17, OGS Ottawa Branch will feature a session Discover the World of Webinars!  "We will showcase some free providers of webinars as well as let you know how to access them from home!"
There are the usual preliminaries of networking and announcements, all starting at 1pm at the City of Ottawa Archives, 100 Tallwood Drive, Room 115
Branch members who can't attend have the option of joining via Live Meeting, courtesy of the National Institute of Genealogical Studies. Only physical attendees, members or non-members, get to share in the juice and cookies.

15 March 2012

Tracing Your War of 1812 Ancestors

A new publication from Family Chronicle and Moorehead Magazines

In recognition of the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812, a major event in the history of North America, Family Chronicle is proud to present Tracing Your War of 1812 Ancestors!
Family Chronicle author David A. Norris has compiled a wealth of genealogical and historical information that can help you locate your War of 1812 ancestor, as well as add valuable context to their life during this tempestuous time.
The contents, subject to change up to time of printing, are:
Chronology of the War of 1812
An outline of the war, the causes and resolution
War of 1812 US Army Ancestors
A bit of digging might uncover a treasure trove of information on an ancestor in the US army
Canadian Records of the War of 1812
New resources make locating Canadian soldiers simpler
British Records of the War of 1812
Tips on locating ancestors who served in the British forces
Census Records and the War Years
Despite their limitations, early 19th-century census records can fill in details of an ancestor’s life
Bounty Land Warrants
Land bounty records are a valuable source of information on veterans and their heirs
Newspapers During the War Years
Newspapers of the War of 1812 era are a valuable genealogical and historical resource
Finding the Fallen: Cemetery Records
A number of resources are available that can help you locate burial sites
Privateer and Naval Pensions
Pension records can reveal a wealth of information on a maritime ancestor
Prize Money: The Spoils of War
Prize money could more than double a sailor’s pay
Marines Resources and Records
Although US Marines were a small force in 1812, a number of resources exist for them
Mapping the War of 1812
Historic maps help bring the War of 1812 era to life
Military Ranks and Pay
Along with their regular pay, some soldiers and sailors received bonuses, and allowances
Last Survivors of the War of 1812
As a rule of thumb, the last survivor of a war will live roughly 90 years after the war
Shipping is free with pre-publication ordering, by midnight Monday, March 19, 2012 Tracing Your War of 1812 Ancestors will be available on May 1, 2012!

Linda Reid presenter at Quinte OGS Branch

Next Saturday, 17 March 2012, sees Linda Reid speaking on Solving Genealogical Problems Using English Probate Records at Quinte OGS Branch's monthly meeting. .

Probate records (the calendars and the wills themselves) are a cost-effective way of expanding your family tree to the aunts, uncles and cousins of each generation as well as going both forwards and backwards in time. Case studies to identify the people named in wills from the pre-civil registration period to the present day illustrate solving a number of genealogical problems, including finding a daughter who "disappeared", identifying someone who died away from home, finding where someone was born abroad and identifying the father of an illegitimate child.
The meeting is at the usual location, Quinte West City Hall Library, 7 Creswell Drive, Trenton, Ontario starting at 1pm. Details at: Quinte OGS Branch 

BMDs from Early Ottawa Newspapers

The following is a note received from John Patton for Ottawa Branch of OGS.

The following death notice appeared on page 2 of  the Ottawa Times on April 7, 1868, just a few hours after the “Father of Confederation” was murdered at the front door of his rooming-house on Ottawa’s Sparks Street.
McGEE, Thomas D’Arcy
On Apr. 7 at the door to his lodgings on Sparks St., Thomas D’Arcy McGEE was shot by assassin. 2nd son of James McGEE and Dorcas MORGAN of Co. Wexford, Ireland. Born in Carlingford, Co. Louth on 13 Apr. 1825, named D’Arcy for his godfather Thomas D’ARCY. Funeral from late residence Sparks st. to the Cathedral, then railway station.
This is just one of the fascinating birth, marriage and death notices that can be found in the new DVD publication of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society: BMDs from Early Ottawa Newspapers (Pub. No. 11-01).
These notices carried in The Ottawa Tribune, The Daily Union, and The Daily News/Ottawa Times between 1854 and 1877 cover a quarter-century of probably the most momentous period in the history of the City of Ottawa. On 1 January 1855, the lumbering village of Bytown was formally incorporated as the City of Ottawa. Just two years later, in 1857, the new city was officially declared to be the capital of the United Province of Canada and a mere decade afterwards, on 1 July 1867, became the capital of the new Dominion of Canada.
Within these notices, one can find names or surnames of many of the most influential men, and a few women, of their time, both locally and nationally.  There are surnames such as Wright, Billings, Sparks, McKay, Besserer, Skead, Sherwood and Bell which recall Bytown’s boisterous heyday as the lumbering capital of Canada.  As well, in addition to McGee, there are names such as Macdonald and Langevin which resonate with the emerging history of the new dominion.  There are notable individual items such as the birth of a son to Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald. The deaths of prominent British and American figures, such as Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, were often listed in these notices rather than or in addition to news items.
The cost is $18 including tax and shipping. You can obtain a copy by submitting an order form, available at http://ogsottawa.on.ca/publications/orderform.php
or through the OGS e-store at http://www.ogs.on.ca/ogscart/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=2.
Comment: We're told the provincial BMD records are not very complete in the early years. Are there any statistics? It would be interesting to see how many of the events of (a sample of) those on this DVD are in the provincial vital records.

Ancestry add The Belfast Newsletter, 1738-1925 as images

Nearly two centuries, 217,398 page images, of The Belfast Newsletter are now available on Ancestry.co.uk.

history of the paper indicates it carried little Irish news until the 1840s that overlooks the many advertisements, such as shown in the image from the 9-12 October 1792 issue offerring a reward for the return or information leading to the capture of Edward Magreevy, a deserter from the 22nd Regiment of Foot.

Although the Ancestry version is only page images a search for Magreevy at the The Belfast Newsletter Index, 1737-1800 would find the reference for the item above.

The Belfast Newsletter is available from 1828 to 1900 at the British Newspaper Archive and British Library 19th Century Newspapers where you can conduct a free search to direct you to the corresponding image at Ancestry..

14 March 2012

Ancestry adds Irish Probate and Marriage Licence Index

115,989 index records are now online through Ancestry for Dublin, Ireland, Probate Record and Marriage Licence Index, 1270-1858

"The vast majority of records in this database are index entries extracted from wills, letters of administration, acts of probate, marriage licenses, and other records within the Diocese of Dublin. These indexes were included as appendices to two volumes (the 26th and the 30th) of the Reports of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records and Keeper of the State Papers in Ireland. These appendices were titled
Index to the Act or Grant Books, and to Original Wills, of the Diocese of Dublin to the year 1800.
An Index to the Act or Grant Books and Original Wills of the Diocese of Dublin from 1800 to 1858.
A note accompanying the second explains that “the following Index is a continuation of that published as an Appendix to the Twenty-sixth Report of the Deputy Keeper, which extended to the end of the year 1799. The present one reaches to the 9th January, 1858."

Royal Artillery records new at findmypast.co.uk

At findmypast.co.uk you can now search more than 16,500 Royal Artillery Military Medals 1916-1993, from WWI to the Falklands War, and and 21,400 Royal Artillery honours and awards for the period 1939-1946. These transcriptions include the unit they served in, the type of service and details of the award.

Daniel Caron explains LAC's acquisition policy

90% of our acquisitions are government documents and legal deposit. We continue to refine policy for the other discretionary 10%. That was one of the messages given in a Radio-Canada interview in French by Library and Archives Canada's "general administrator".
Other points made, if my rusty French serves, are that there is considerable cost to conserving donated materials, as well as the cost of tax-concessions, so there is a need to be selective in what is accepted; some materials have been deaccessioned to Quebec and Newfoundland; LAC will only collect materials that fit it's mandate and are of national importance. He criticized the previous lack of criteria for adding to the collection stating that acquisitions had been too much the personal choice of the archivists and curators. He also stated that he regarded LAC as one amongst many archival organizations in Canada and would not compete with others, LAC will only collect materials of national significant within its mandate and ensure that materials were available close to where they would be most used.

Unfortunately he was not asked which materials in the collection do not meet the collections policy and what he intends to do with them.

Now we are six

Today, 14 March 2012, marks the sixth anniversary of this blog.

13 March 2012

BMD certificate prices to increase

Ian Hartas from UKBMD is reporting, presently unconfirmed, that for England and Wales "local Register Offices have received a circular from GRO dated 9th March which stated that the fees for Birth Marriage and Death certificates issued by Superintendent Registrars is set to increase from £9 to £10 with effect from 1st April 2012. The circular also stated that these changes are being brought into effect via the Registration of Births Deaths and Marriages (Fees) (Amendment) Order 2012 which was laid before Parliament on 9th March."

It's unclear whether fees for certificates from the GRO will also increase.

UPDATE: Now confirmed on Chris Paton's blog

Round the Coast, 1895

The BBC have started a TV series Britain's First Photo Album visiting sites where pioneer Victorian photographer Francis Frith photo-documented the UK during the latter part of the 19th century. Presenter John Sergeant investigates the background of 40 of the images, four per episode, and creates another 40 capturing the spirit of the originals for modern Britain.

Those of us not fortunate enough to have BBC TV access may instead enjoy the images and accompanying text in Round the Coast 1895, an album of pictures from photographs of the chief seaside places of interest in Great Britain and Ireland, placed online by Rosemary and Stan Rodliffe. Many of the photos are by Frith & Co. Find it at: http://www.thornburypump.co.uk/Coast1895/

The places and images available are:

Aberdeen - General view from the river
Aberdour - The Tantallon Castle leaving the pier
Aberdovey - View of the town and the bay
Aberystwith - View of the bay, showing the Castle and the University College
Aldeburgh - The beach
Arbroath - From the harbour
Ardglass - General view of the harbour
Ardrishaig - The steamer Columba at Ardrishaig Quay
Arnside - From North End, Carnforth
Arran - Brodick pier and Goatfell
Ashton - From the east
Bangor - The town and the bay, from Mornington Park, Princeton
Barmouth - View from the Mawddach, showing heights
Barnstaple - Croyde Bay
Beaumaris - Looking towards the landing-stage
Berwick - From Spittal, showing Berwick Bridge
Bexhill - The hotels and the beach
Blackpool - View of the front, showing the Tower
Blackpool - A rough day
Bognor - The esplanade
Boscastle - View of the harbour
Bournemouth - View from the West Cliff
Bournemouth - The pier approach
Branksea Island - General view of the Castle
Bray - The Promenade and Bray Head
Bridlington - Looking down the Prince’s Parade
Bridport - The West Bay
Brighton - The Hotel Métropole and beach
Brighton - Entrance to the aquarium, showing the Chain Pier
Brighton - The West Pier
Brighton - A long stretch of the beach
Brixham - The Lower Town, showing fishing fleet
Broadstairs - General view from the cliffs
Broughty Ferry - View from the river
Bude - The Chapel Rock
Budleigh Salterton - General view of the valley
Bundoran - The East Strand, with the Great Northern Hotel

Cape Cornwall - A lonely spot
Carlingford - Showing the ruins of Carlingford Castle
Carnarvon - The Castle
Carnoustie - The town and the beach
Carrick-a-rede - The rope bridge across the chasm
Castletown - From the pier, showing the Castle of Rushen
Clacton-on-Sea - On the beach
Clacton-on-Sea - The approach to the pier
Cleethorpes - A view of the sands
Clevedon - The Green Beach
Cliffs of Moher - A striking coast scene
Clovelly - View from Hobby Drive
Colwyn Bay - The sands
Coverack - The cove and village
Crail - The village and the harbour
Criccieth - View of the beach and the castle
Crinan - The western terminus of the canal, and the Sound of Jura
Cromer - Showing the church on the cliffs
Cushendun - The river, the hills, and Cushendun Bay
Dartmouth - Dartmouth and Kingswear Castles
Dartmouth - General view, showing the Britannia Floating Naval College
Dawlish - General view
Deal - Looking along the beach
Donaghadee - View from the church tower, showing harbour
Douglas - From Douglas Head
Douglas - General view of the promenade
Douglas - The bathing-place at Port Skillion
Dover - The Parade, showing Dover Castle
Dover - The tunnel in Shakespeare’s Cliff
Dovercourt - The sands
Dunmore - The town and the harbour
Dunoon - View on the Clyde

East Hartlepool - Commissioners’ Harbour
Eastbourne - General view from the Wish Tower
Eastbourne - The Pier
Eastbourne - Part of the promenade, showing Wish Tower
Exmouth - View showing the beach and the opposite shore
Falmouth - General view, from Pendennis
Felixstowe - From the Bath Hotel
Filey - The Spa
Filey - Filey Brig
Flamborough - The fishermen at work
Fleetwood - The promenade: departure of the Isle of Man steamer
Fleetwood - The sands
Folkestone - View showing The Lees and the pier
Fowey - Entrance to the harbour
Freshwater Bay - The town and the bay
Freshwater Bay - Showing ‘The Arched Rock’
Gareloch-Head - From the hills
Glenarm - The town and the harbour
Glengarriff - Eccle’s Hotel
Glengarriff - The Esplanade
Gorleston - A stretch of the sands
Gourock - The town and the harbour
Grange - View from the gardens
Great Yarmouth - A typical scene on the beach
Great Yarmouth - The Town Hall
Grimsby - View of the docks, with the hydraulic tower
Guernsey - St. Peter-Port and Castle Cornet
Guernsey - Moulin Huet Bay, with the ‘Dog and Lion’ rocks
Guernsey - The Old Harbour

Harwich - The beach at low tide
Harwich - The quay and Great Eastern Hotel
Hastings - From the East Hill
Hastings - The front, showing pier
Hastings - The Castle
Helensburgh - East Bay
Herne Bay - The front, showing clock tower
Holyhead - The breakwater
Holyhead - The South Stack Lighthouse
Howth - General view of the harbour and Ireland’s Eye
Howth - The bathing-place
Hull - Prince’s Dock: with the Wilberforce Memorial and dock offices
Hull - The pier and front
Hunstanton - The front and beach
Ilfracombe - General view, showing Capstone Parade
Ilfracombe - Lantern Hill
Ilfracombe - Typical view, showing rugged coast
Innellan - Showing the rocky beach and the steamboat pier
Inveraray - The town, and the hill of Duniquoich
Jersey - St. Helier
Jersey - Gorey, and Mont Orgueil Castle
Jersey - Portelet Bay and Janvrin Island
Jersey - La Corbière Rock and Lighthouse

Kilkee - Looking across the bay
Killiney - General view
Killybegs - Looking over the village and the bay
Kingstown - General view of the harbour
Kinsale - A fishing fleet in the harbour
Kirn - From the landing stage
Kynance Cove - The cove and village
Land’s End - Showing the Longships Lighthouse
Largs - From the sea
Laxey - General view
Littlehampton - Paddling at low water
Llandudno - Looking down from the mountain
Llanfairfechan - The village and Penmaenmawr Mountain
Llanstephan - The village and the castle-crowned hill
Looe - View from the hills, showing the estuary
Lowestoft - On the sands
Lowestoft - The harbour and parade
Lulworth - Lulworth Cove and village
Lydstep - The cliffs and the beach
Lyme Regis - The harbour
Lymington - The bridge and the town, from the river
Lynmouth - The hill, showing Lynton above
Lytham - From the pier
Manorbier - The castle
Marazion - General view, showing harbour
Margate - On the sands
Margate - The harbour and the jetty
Menai - From Bangor Wood
Milford Haven - General view of the town and the haven
Millport - From the east
Minehead - View of the village and church
Monkstown - From Monkstown Pier Station
Morecambe - The Promenade
Mullion Cove - Showing Mullion Island
Mumbles - The town and the bay
Mumbles - The lighthouse

New Brighton - Showing the fort and the lighthouse
Newcastle, Co. Down - The Strand, with Slieve Donard
Newcastle-on-Tyne - View on the Tyne
Newhaven - In the harbour
Newlyn - View of the village and the harbour
Newquay - A quiet bathing-place
North Berwick - From the rocks, showing North Berwick Law
North Berwick - Tantallon Castle and the Bass Rock
Oban - The town and the bay
Paignton - The sands, from the pier
Peel - The old castle and harbour
Penarth - The esplanade and Penarth Head
Penmaenmawr - The town, the mountain, and the sea
Penzance - The Esplanade
Pittenweem - From the west
Plymouth - Drake’s Island, from Mount Edgcumbe
Plymouth - The Hoe
Plymouth - The pier
Polkerris - A remote Cornish village
Polperro - The inlet and the village
Port Bannatyne - A pleasant walk
Port Erin - Panoramic view of the town and its vicinity
Port Erin - Bradda Head, with the Milner Tower
Port St. Mary - The town and harbour
Porthleven - The harbour and look-out
Portland - The Chesil Beach
Portland - Panoramic view
Portmadoc - The harbour and the town
Portobello - The beach
Portpatrick - The harbour
Portrush - The bathing-place
Portsmouth - General view of the harbour, showing Nelson’s battleship, The Victory
Portsmouth - The Hard
Portstewart - The harbour and town
Pwllheli - A sheltered corner

Queenstown - Looking along the shore
Ramsey - From the Albert Tower
Ramsey - The beach
Ramsgate - A lively view of the sands
Ramsgate - The harbour
Reculver - The village and the Reculver Towers
Redcar - Looking along the esplanade
Rhyl - The Esplanade
Robin Hood’s Bay - The village and bay
Roker - The beach, from the terrace
Rostrevor - Woodside, Rostrevor
Rothesay - The landing-stage and esplanade
Runswick - The village on the cliffs
Ryde - View from the pier
Ryde - The esplanade

Saltburn - View of the cliffs, beach , and pier
Sandbank - From the east, showing Sandbank and Kilmun
Sandgate - View from the Heights
Sandown - From the cliffs
Sandown - The bathing beach
Sark - Creux Harbour
Sark - Les Autelets Rocks
Saundersfoot - General view of the bay
Scarborough - General view of the South Bay
Scarborough - The children’s corner
Scarborough - View from the rocks
Scilly Islands - The cove and lighthouse, St. Agnes
Scilly Islands - Hell Bay, Bryher
Sea View - The bathing beach and suspension pier
Seaford - The Parade
Seaton - Looking towards White Cliff
Shanklin - View of the beach and the heights
Shanklin - The Chine
Sheerness - The promenade and the beach
Sidmouth - The promenade and the beach
Skegness - The pier
South Shields - ‘All the fun of the fair’
Southampton - The pier
Southampton - The western shore
Southampton - The Platform
Southend - From the pier
Southport - The pier and the South Lake
Southsea - General view of the beach
Southwold - The North Cliff
Southwold - Gun Hill
St. Leonards - The Marina
St. Andrews - View of the town from College Church Tower
St. Andrews - The Castle, seen from the south-east
St. Anne’s-on-Sea - The South Promenade
St. Ives - The town and ‘The Island’
St. Margaret’s Bay - The hotel, from the cliffs
St. Mawes - Showing the harbour and the castle
St. Michael’s Mount - From the rocks near Marazion
St. Monan’s - From the west
Staffa - The ‘Herdsman’
Staffa - Fingal’s Cave
Staithes - Looking towards the sea
Stonehaven - The harbour
Sunderland - Looking up the river from the bridge
Sutton-on-Sea - A quiet resort
Swanage - View of the town and the sea

Tarbert - Fishing boats going out
Teignmouth - General view of the Dene
Tenby - General view
Tenby - St. Catherine’s Rock and Fort
Tenby - In the harbour
The Eddystone Lighthouse - Showing the rocks
The Needles - General view, showing the lighthouse
Tintagel - Showing King Arthur’s Castle
Tobermory - General view of the town
Torquay - General view from Waldron Hill
Torquay - The natural arch (‘London Bridge’)
Torquay - Anstey’s Cove
Torquay - The beach, Babbicombe
Totland Bay - An excursion steamer at the pier
Tynemouth - The Aquarium and sands
Ventnor - Panorama from the sea
Walton-on-the-Naze - Scene on the beach
Warrenpoint - From Omeath, on the opposite side of Carlingford Lough
Wells - The quay
Wemyss Bay - From the railway
West Cowes - View from East Cowes
Westgate-on-Sea - Villadom on the cliffs
Weston-super-Mare - A summer scene on the sands
Wexford - From the opposite shore
Weymouth - General view of the town and the beach
Whitby - General view of the town
Whitstable - The West Beach
Wicklow - General view of the town and the river
Wigtown - From the Martyrs’ Monument
Worthing - General view of the front
Yarmouth (Isle of Wight) - General view