31 July 2012

Amazing genetic genealogy success story

For the doubting Thomas types on the benefits of DNA testing, and those who like sharing in other's successes, here's an amazing instance, well told.


Survey: LAC Flickr sets

Library and Archives Canada is continuing to post images from its archive on the social network site Flickr. On Monday 72 images with the set title Summer Sports and Leisure Activities was posted, see them at

Now that LAC has posted quite a few of these theme sets please respond to the following poll.

New UK TV WDYTYA line-up

WDYTYA magazine has released the list of celebrities to be featured in the next BBC series, only two of whom I recognize. The list below is ordered by number of results returned for the name searched in Google Encrypted. In cases with duplicate names results returned are not representative of the celebrity's popularity (notarity?)
Annie Lennox, Scottish singer-songwriter, member of the Eurythmics. Also political activist and philanthropist. (7,870,000 Google hits).
Patrick Stewart, multi-talented actor still best known as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation (5,110,000 Google hits).
John Barnes, Jamaican-born English former football player, manager and TV commentator. (2,430,000)
John Bishop English comedian. (2,260,000)
Alex Kingston, known for her role in the NBC medical drama ER (1,690,000 Google hits)
Celia Imrie, actress on the stage, cinema and TV (857,000)
Hugh Dennis, English actor, comedian, writer, impressionist (385,000)
William Roache, best known for his role as Ken Barlow in the soap opera Coronation Street. (202,000).
Gregg Wallace, English writer, media (food) personality. (196,000)
Samantha Womack, best known for her role in the EastEnders soap opera. (160.000).

According to WDYTYA magazine the series is presently planned to commence on August 15.

30 July 2012

Book Review: The Genealogist's Internet, from an Irish perspective

In his weekly Irish Roots column for the Irish Times John Grenham comments favourably on the 5th edition of Peter Christian’s The Genealogist’s Internet  mentioning the improved Irish coverage, and some sins of omission.

New on the OGS blog

OGS is trying something new on their blog: Polls. They intend posting a new one each week. The first asks about the regions you are researching. With 31 votes recorded England is only a few percentage points behind Canada, with Scotland and Ireland a bit further behind. You can vote at http://www.ogs.on.ca/ogsblog/

The previous post on the blog, Periodicals: The United Kingdom: England, mentions those collected in the OGS library. It serves to point out the availability, but also reminds of the disproportionate benefit Toronto area members get from OGS membership. But maybe that's illusion; OGS could poll to find out just how many members use the library and those periodical subscriptions.

The last word on truth in genealogy

 In Evidence Explained, page 22, Elizabeth Mills has a section on Truth. It reads in part:

"Historical truth is physically pliable. We begin every research project the with the vision of that part of truth awaiting us at the rainbow's end. When we reached that end we have only a mound of dough ... The principles covered in the rest of this chapter ... are designed to help history's truthseekers leaven, knead, and bake their dough into something that, one hopes, will resemble probability."
How to express that probability?

29 July 2012

Researching unusual names

An unusual name to research is a genealogist's blessing. What are the chances that more than one person by the name Audio Science Clayton, Fifi Trixibell Geldof, or Moon Unit Zappa has ever existed? Some parents give their creative genes free reign in choosing their child's name.

For more common names you need to add additional facts, such as birth date and place, parents names, religion and more to establish the person's identity uniquely. It's the establishment of the unique identity, not the rote accumulation of additional facts, that should be the driving force in deciding when you have enough information to proceed further along your research path.

Naturally, some of those facts will be found without much effort from your base source and provide clues in pushing research further back in time. Just use your judgement before going to expensive lengths to accumulate evidence which will in all likelihood be redundant when your time and money can and must be better spent.

FMP adds Devon marriage records

From findmypast.co.uk comes news of 150,388 newly online parish marriage records for Devon.
The records span the period 1837-2002 and include Church of England, Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian marriages.

28 July 2012

BIFHSGO conference interview with Jane Buck

Jane Buck will be coming to the BIFHSGO conference in September giving two presentations on genetic genealogy.  Learn about how Jane came to work for Family Tree DNA, and about the talks she'll be giving by clicking on the link:

Ancestry adds Lancashire parish records

There are more than 2.8 million records for Lancashire births, baptisms, banns, marriages, deaths and burials in these indexed datasets linked to images of originals from the Lancashire Archives.

Of the four datasets the largest is Lancashire, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 with 931,033 entries. Earlier records are usually more difficult to read and contain less information, perhaps just a name and date in the case of a burial entry. There is a gradual increase in the number of entries, except for a decrease in the Commonwealth period, especially 1651 and 1652. 1655-1657 may have compensatory baptismal entries.

The second largest dataset is Lancashire, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1911

with 850,138 entries. Lancashire, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1936 has
645,187 entries and Lancashire, England, Deaths and Burials, 1813-1986,
441,009 entries.

You can search and view the indexed record and the image of the original and may browse the records by parish with division by year range.

This is a good candidate for periodic updating.

27 July 2012

TNA podcast: Charities and their records for family historians

Simon Fowler gave this presentation at The (UK) National Archives last month, and unfortunately the first part of the talk is not included, so the podcast starts abruptly. Prior to the introduction of the welfare state in 1948 charities were a significant part of the social safety net in the UK, in particular for the so-called "deserving poor." Others were left to the much despised Poor Law system.

The presentation gives a good idea of the scope of their activities detailing the types of charities that existed, endowed and subscription, and the areas in which they worked. Barnardo's and the Waifs and Strays are mentioned as examples of organizations that emigrated children to Canada and Australia.

Unless the records are still with the organization, as is the case with Barnardo's, they will normally be found at local or county record offices. That's if they still exist, many have not survived. A good starting point to find these records is the National Register of Archives.

More recent records are likely to be embargoed for privacy. Expect to find many more meeting minutes, accounts, and annual reports than detailed information on an individual beneficiaries, although you may find their name on an intake list.

Connect to the podcast at: http://media.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php/charities-and-their-records-for-family-historians/

LAC adds WW1 era finding aids online

A small step forward for LAC is placing online finding aids to files of the Department of Militia and Defence (RG9) circa 1914–1919.

The Library and Archives Canada Blog details what's newly available online:

General Staff, London—501 descriptions (Finding aid 9-31-36)
Headquarters, Canadian Troops, Seaford—106 descriptions (Finding aid 9-31-41)
No. 5 Canadian General Hospital, Kirkdale—239 descriptions (Finding aid 9-31-39)
Military Hospital No. 12, Bramshott—363 descriptions (Finding aid 9-31-38)
Director of Supply and Transport, London—1159 descriptions (Finding aid 9-31-42)
Quartermaster General, London—1367 descriptions (Finding aid 9-31-43)
Canadian Army Service Corps, London—684 descriptions (Finding aid 9-31-44)
War Graves (Adjutant General Branch)—188 descriptions (Finding aid 9-31-51)
Canadian Air Force—89 descriptions (Finding aid 9-31-49)
Assistant Director Medical Services, Shorncliffe—236 descriptions (Finding aid 9-31-47)
Canadian Forestry Corps, 51st District (Scotland)—198 descriptions (Finding aid 9-31-46)
Canadian Army Veterinary Corps—1077 descriptions (Finding aid 9-31-45)

Each leads to multiple sub-series with lower level descriptors as illustrated to the left. Each one I looked at included the caution:
Warning: Descriptive record is in process. These materials may not yet be available for consultation. 

With no descriptive record you have to guess as the content from the title. This is an example where the record should be more precisely described. Some files contain correspondence arranged chronologically, time-consuming to process. I'm told some contain alphabetically ordered records and it should be relatively easy to add the range of names contained in the file to the finding aid.

Genetic genealogy for felines

For genetic genealogist cat lovers the University of California at Davis, Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary Genetic Laboratory provides a service to trace the lineage of your feline.

According to the lab website "cat breeds were developed from random bred cats and most breeds are less than 100 years old. Random bred cats from around the world can be traced back to 8 geographic regions of origin: Western Europe, Egypt, East Mediterranean, Iran/Iraq, Arabian Sea, India, South Asia and East Asia. The Cat Ancestry test will determine if a cat descends from one or more of the 8 ancestral groups.  Once the ancestral origin is determined, comparisons are done with 29 breeds of cats to determine if the cat has similarities to any of the reference breeds."

The Cat Ancestry test traces the lineage of your cat and provides results for common physical traits of coat color, fur length and type.

Pricing per test is USD 120 per cat.

No mention is made of any social networking aspect where your cat will be able to connect on Facebook or Twitter with genetic cousins.

More at: www.vgl.ucdavis.edu/services/cat/ancestry/index.php

26 July 2012

New records for Oldham on FMP

Findmypast.co.uk have published Oldham Employers' Roll of Honour 1914-1920 and Oldham Pals 1914-1920.

Oldham Employers' Roll of Honour 1914-1920 contains 1,900 men who had enlisted in His Majesty's Armed Forces and who were employed by companies in and around Oldham. Some rolls include full name details as well as rank, regimental number, regiment, battalion, company and even platoon and section. Other men are listed simply by last name and initial.

Oldham Pals 1914-1920 has 1,755 records of men, by platoon, who joined the 'Oldham Pals' battalion in WWI: the 24th (Service) Battalion, The Manchester Regiment. The information normally available is:

First names, rather than initials
Date the man arrived overseas
Details of subsequent transfers
Details of whether the man was killed in action or died of wounds
Details of awards

With many WW1 service files having been destroyed this type of records is especially valuable.

Genographic Project 2.0

There's a new opportunity opening up to get your feet wet in genetic genealogy, a development of one that's already done that for tens if not hundreds of thousands of family historians.

National Geographic announce the availability of Geno 2.0.

Whereas the original Genographic project conducted the most basic test on either the Y-chromosome (for men) or mitochondrial DNA (for women) the new test will look at as many as 150,000 selected locations across the DNA spectrum.

You can read the details at the Your Genetic Genealogist blog.

As with the previous Genographic project, this is being conducted in collaboration with Family Tree DNA. I've been expecting some initiative from them -- it's been a while since the company, the long-time leader in genetic genealogy, has announced anything new except sales.

The cost is $199.95; pre-orders are being accepted at http://goo.gl/NOQj7

LAC understates benefits

Measuring Our Value was an independent economic impact study commissioned by the British Library to look at the direct and indirect value of the Library to the UK economy. The direct value comes from those who use the BL products and
services directly;  the indirect value from the wider UK population. See the examples in the summary of the BL study at http://www.bl.uk/aboutus/stratpolprog/increasingvalue/measuring.pdf

The result: the annual value of the BL was £363M of which £304M was indirect, only £59M was direct value.

The direct value was less than the total public funding of £83M, while the overall benefit to cost ratio was 4.4 to 1.

Library and Archives Canada marginalizes indirect benefit failing to acknowledge the indirect value of their services.

Instead LAC trumpets the number of hits it gets on its website and promotes the year over year increase. The relatively small and decreasing number of visitors to the physical site at 395 Wellington is cited to justify further curtailing onsite service. Yet its the onsite users who contribute, likely disproportionately, to the economic value of LAC services through the larger indirect benefits.

25 July 2012

FreeBMD July update

The FreeBMD Database was last updated on Tuesday 17 July 2012 and contains 218,542,758 distinct records (276,229,473 total records).

Major additions are: for births 1939-40, 1943-45, 1949, 1955-56, and 1958-63; for marriages 1952-55, 1957-58, 1960-62 and; for deaths 1953-56 and 1961-64.

Conference: The story of migration from, to and within the British Isles

Alec Tritton sent a notice of an interesting looking conference on migration, to, from and within the British Isles to be held in September 2013.

The conference is now open to presentation proposals; deadline for submissions the end of September 2012.

The event is being organized by The Halsted Trust and sponsored by  findmypast.co.uk.

Super offer from Find My Past

Find My Past has jumped the pond landing in the US with an amazing pioneer offer, a 75% discount for the complete World Subscription to a limited number of early subscribers. If you've ever thought of a Find My Past subscription this is the one to grab while available. Check it out yourself at findmypast.com.

The press release is below, and in case you're wondering, I have no financial interest in this deal. I am a satisfied long-time FMP customer.

For Immediate Release
“Pioneer Offer” Provides World Subscription at a 75 Percent Discount; $4.95 per Month Instead of $20.83 per Month
LOS ANGELES, July 24, 2012 - Findmypast.com, a British-owned family history website, is marking its launch into the U.S. genealogy market on July 24 by offering its first customers a world subscription at a 75 percent discount – just $4.95 per month. This introductory price point will give access to not just a wealth of US census and vital records but also a vast overseas collection. The latter includes almost 1,000 unique British, Irish and Australian record collections, some of which contain up to 30 million records in a single collection. Findmypast.com is offering a limited number of these introductory-rate subscriptions on a “first come, first served” basis.
“The genealogy community knows $4.95 per month for these records is a steal,” says Brian Speckart, marketing manager of North America for findmypast.com and brightsolid online publishing, its parent company. “We want those new to family history searching to understand the weight of this offer before it’s over.”

A 12-month World Subscription to findmypast.com will normally cost $20.83 per month or $249.95 year –but customers who are quick enough to secure the “Pioneer Offer” will get one for just $4.95 per month or $59.95 per year.

Findmypast.com is the new US addition to a global network of findmypast websites – it joins existing findmypast sites in the UK, Ireland and Australia. It has recruited a separate US team, based in a new office in Venice, California. It is also a participant in the 1940 US Census Community Project, which is currently
indexing the 1940 US Census, for viewing on findmypast.com.

For more information on other subscription and payment options, visit findmypast.com.

24 July 2012

Legacy Family Tree webinars this week.

They're one of the best bargains around in family history - free (with commercial!) webinars presented by the folks at the Millennia Corporation, makers of Legacy Family Tree.

On Wednesday, July 25 it's Tips for Taking the Flip-Pal mobile scanner to your Family Gatherings, presented by Gordon Nuttall and Thomas MacEntee.  They're giving away a free Flip-Pal as a door prize.

On Friday, July 27 popular speaker Thomas MacEntee is back with The Genealogy Cloud: Which Online Storage Program Is Right For You?

Both start at 2pm EDT. Further information and register at http://news.legacyfamilytree.com/legacy_news/2012/07/two-free-webinars-this-week-flip-pal-mobile-scanner-and-thomas-macentees-the-genealogy-cloud.html

Probability in genealogy

Following on my post Lineage societies and the genealogical proof standard  leading genealogy blogger Randy Seaver and others commented "I'm unclear as to your meaning of "probabilistic approach." How would that work?"

It isn't straightforward. Neither is mastering the skills needed to be a certified genealogist yet many rise to the challenge.

The previous post quoted Elizabeth Mills at http://learn.ancestry.com/LearnMore/Article.aspx?id=803

"The most we can do is to establish probability through an expert analysis of the evidence known to date."
There's further enlightenment in Elizabeth Mills, “Working with Historical Evidence: Genealogical Principles and Standards,” Evidence: A Special Issue of the NATIONAL GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY, NGSQ 87 (September 1999): 165–84, available at http://www.voicespast.com/NGS/091222_1141/appendix/evid.pdf
"Levels of Confidence
Within sound genealogical studies, information statements about dates, identities, places, relationships, and similar matters are frequently prefaced by such terms as apparently, likely, possibly, or probably—all  denoting that the stated “fact” is clouded by doubt. To date, these terms have no concrete definitions; practically speaking, they take on whatever shade each individual researcher provides with his or her supporting detail."
With no concrete definitions the use of these terms is anything but transparent, hardly the hallmark of professionalism.

The same article continues by referring to, while not endorsing, a three level probability scale:
• Possibility, used at the “speculation” stage—a term comparable to the math/physics concepts intuition and guess.
• Probability, used at the “hypothesis” stage—a term comparable to the math/physics concepts proposal and conjecture.
• (Reasonable) certainty, used at the “proof” stage—a term signifying a convincing degree that is comparable to the math/physics concept verification.
Finally, Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub., 2001, page 463 refers to a range of probability expressions:

Possibly     There is a remote possibility .......He could have
Probably     There is a slight chance .......He must have
Certainly    There is a chance ..... Her certainly must have

All those references are at least a decade old. Shouldn't time move on in developing genealogical methodology?

A recent book, Carrier, Richard C. Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2012, suggests a Canon of Probabilities for use in historical studies:

Virtually Impossible = 0.0001%
Extremely Improbable = 1%
Very Improbable = 5%
Improbable = 20%
Slightly Improbable = 40%
Even Odds = 50%
Slightly Probable = 60%
Probable = 80%
Very Probable = 95%
Extremely Probable = 99%
Virtually Certain = 99.9999%

If the genealogical profession were to agree they saw advantages in adopting some such probability scale as a standard then the profession could move on to how to assess the probability.

Those whose minds are open to the possibility of such an approach should read the first few chapters of Richard Carrier's book or watch him explain the use of Bayes' Theorem in exploring historical issues at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHIz-gR4xHo to get an idea of how that might work. Don't be put off by his style of presentation. There are other YouTube videos on Bayes' Theorem including a series starting at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XR1zovKxilw which I found to be one of the most understandable.

Neither of these are presented in a genealogical context.

More to come later ...

Strangely, Canada!

An aside in John Grenham's Irish Roots column article Ancestry.com in Dublin left me puzzled.

"... Ancestry.com Europe S.à rl, a limited company based in Luxembourg that also manages six other non-US Ancestry websites, for Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Australia and, strangely, Canada."
Why it would be any more strange for Canada to be included than, say, Australia, or any of the other independent nations in the list?

Publicity for Queen's University Archives

If you have links to Queen's University and the surrounding area of Kingston this short video clip could be of interest.  http://www.ckwstv.com/index.cfm?page=news&id=7604

23 July 2012

Google search tips and tricks

I've recently finished a series of lectures offered online by Google to build search skills. The sessions, well done with reinforcement through exercises and tests, included some material new to me although much was a refresher.

If you didn't take advantage of the lectures you might want to check out the information at http://www.google.com/insidesearch/tipstricks/

Sussex Census for 1871

A note on the Sussex Plus Rootsweb list informs that "three-quarters of the Sussex census for 1871 is now on-line (on FreeCEN), with the rest of it in the pipe-line.  This means that soon all the censuses for Sussex from 1861, '71,  and '91 will be available for researchers to use without charge at www.freecen.org.uk (and the 1881 is of course also free, thanks to the LDS). Even if you have a subscription to one of the other census sites it's often worth looking on FreeCEN for your ancestor; transcription is not an exact science and a "second opinion" may find someone whose name was mis-read on the database you usually refer to."

The group of volunteer indexers will be starting on the 1851 census and new volunteers are always welcome. Further details are at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ssx1861/

Thanks to Christine Jackson for passing along the information.

Lineage societies and the genealogical proof standard

Since the end of the 20th century the genealogical proof standard (GPS) has been the benchmark for US professional genealogical practice, accepted and actively promoted by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). But there has been little penetration of the GPS elsewhere as evidenced by the very few members of BCG outside the US. There are seven Canadian members and a few strays, one each in France, Germany, Ireland, and New Zealand. Why?

One factor might be the nature of the market outside the US, and to some extent Canada, and the opportunity that exists there in helping people to become a member of a lineage society. For example, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), has 168,000 members. It's open to "any woman 18 years or older who can prove lineal, bloodline descent from an ancestor who aided in achieving American independence... She must provide documentation for each statement of birth, marriage and death, as well as of the Revolutionary War service of her Patriot ancestor." There's more detail on their genealogical requirements at http://www.dar.org/natsociety/content.cfm?ID=95&hd=n&FO=Y

In Canada the Ontario Genealogical Society operates four Heritage Societies:
War of 1812 Society; Centenary Club; The 1837 Rebellion Society and; Upper Canada Society. I'm not aware these are particularly active. More successful, and of much longer standing, is the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada.

The genealogical proof standard has been embraced as a basis for determining whether a case made meets a professional standard, one that would be accepted by a lineage society.

Such societies either accept the case and grant membership, or don't. Just as in a court of law it's guilty or not guilty.

A genealogical proof is never complete. New evidence is always liable to appear. For example, DNA evidence suggests that 1 - 5% of children are not born to the supposed father.

What that means is that, using a 2% non-paternity rate and six generations between the American revolutionary and the living descendant, likely 10% of DAR members are not  the revolutionary era descendant they're supposed to be. That's more than 16,000 DAR members.

If you read explanations of the genealogical proof standard you will encounter frequent mention of probability. For example, Elizabeth Mills in http://learn.ancestry.com/LearnMore/Article.aspx?id=803 writes "No matter how carefully studied the problem may be, the case is never closed in genealogy. It is simply impossible, from the study of historical evidence, to prove parentage, identity, or origins beyond any margin of error. The most we can do is to establish probability through an expert analysis of the evidence known to date."

Were it not for lineage societies as a driver for genealogical research, and their requirement to either accept or reject an application, the US genealogical profession would likely be much more amenable to adopting a probabilistic approach to the presentation of research results.

22 July 2012

Ontario voters' lists

Over the past few weeks a large number of historic voters' lists from Ontario communities for the latter part of the 19th century have been added to the Internet Archive. To find them go to http://archive.org/details/toronto and search for the community name. Add < voters > to the search if there are too many hits.

Ancesty.ca has promised Canada Voters Lists, 1938–1980 to be available in 2012.

From North to South: Vancouver Island resources online

Three new resources for those with Vancouver Island interest.

Northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, Cemetery Records, 1901-2010, new on Ancestry, is 5,168 records via the Campbell River Genealogy Society (CRGS), an index of headstones in the cemeteries of northern Vancouver Island and some adjacent islands in British Columbia. Information includes: name; death date; memorial inscription where available; with some tombstone photographs.  Campbell River is best represented although there are records from smaller communities, like Port Alice and Port Hardy.

Moving south, and also on Ancestry, Central Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, Newspaper Birth, Marriage & Death Indexes, 1917-1990 comprises 21,306 records. This CRGS origin database contains an index information extracted from three newspapers serving the Campbell River, British Columbia, the Campbell River Courier, 1947–1974;  theComox Argus, 1917–1945 and ; the Campbell River Upper Islander, 1964–1990.

At the south end of the island, via an article in the Victoria Times-Colonist, comes news of a project on The Fort Victoria Journal 1846-1850. Fort Victoria was a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post founded in 1843, forerunner of a settlement that eventually grew into the modern city of Victoria. The journal, an official daily record of trade, work, weather, illnesses and other occurrences of note at the fort, is available through a cooperative project with the Historical Editing Class, University of Victoria.

21 July 2012

Early 19th century Irish resource online

Thanks to Pamela Moore for sending news of the Crowley project, a five year project at the National Archives of Ireland, to catalogue to international archival standards, the registered papers of the Office of Chief Secretary of Ireland from 1818 to 1852.

Public access is now available to the online catalogue for the first 5 years of
papers, 1818 to 1822. The project is ongoing.

Go to www.csorp.nationalarchives.ie/index.html to view the resource and useful additional material.

BIFHSGO member is Chinese hero

From the Ottawa Citizen, an article about Vern Burrows, spouse of British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa's former Director of Communications Betty Burrows.

The article starts "A retired plant scientist from Ottawa is a hero in China, complete with statue, for helping that country grow more and better oats."

Although it's Betty who is the avid family historian, Vern occasional volunteers (perhaps is volunteered) to help out

Read the story at http://www.ottawacitizen.com/touch/story.html?id=6960040

Laptop Library: newspaper archives

A 30 minutes BBC Radio 4 program(me) tells the story of the Colindale Newspaper Library soon to be no more. Available for a few days at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/b01kt6qw

"This British Library outpost is both unprepossessing and yet unfailingly valuable to the researchers from around the world who have used it over the past century - from distinguished historians to ordinary members of the public exploring family history or a local football club's history.
Colindale boasts an archive of some 52,000 local, regional, national and international titles, but time marches on. Space is limited, and many of the original newspapers require up-to-date climate control care if they are to survive. These will find their way to a new purpose-built facility at Boston Spa in Yorkshire, while new provision will be made at the British Library's St Pancras site for readers of original material and the vast stock of newspapers on microfilm. Parallel to these developments is the British Library's ongoing Newspaper Archive project, which is making 40 million digitised newspaper pages available online on a fee-paying basis.
Laptop Library is in part a requiem for the much-loved Colindale, with the memories of those who have found often unlikely uses for archive newspapers - from a seismological consultant to a poster historian.
But the programme also looks forward to the new online opportunities for anyone to explore ' the first draft of history' - not only from the British Library but also from other archives in the UK and around the world, such as the Trove online newspaper library in Australia.
What though may be lost in the move from leafing through real newspaper pages to clicking a mouse?"
Along the way there is mention, and interviews, with experts in |Australia and the US.  Notably there is no mention of Canada, undoubtedly a reflection of the shameful way in which Daniel Caron at Library and Archives Canada is neglecting Canada's historic newspapers, and the apathy toward the situation on the part of Heritage Minister James Moore.

18th century Cheshire wills at FMP

Findmypast.co.uk have added 8,163 new Chester wills and probate records for 1711 to 1772 to their collection for the Chester Diocesan Consistory Court and Chester Probate Registry.

20 July 2012

Interview with Patricia Whatley, Dundee resources

A further interview in the series with speakers at September's BIFHSGO conference is now posted at http://www.bifhsgo.ca/cpage.php?pt=62.

Patricia Whatley is Archivist and Head of Archive, Records Management and Museum Services at the University of Dundee,  She is also Director of the Centre for Archive and Information Studies (CAIS), which offers Masters degrees in Archives and Records Management and a Postgraduate Certificate in Family and Local History. She'll be giving a pre-conference workshop on "Scottish archival and lesser-known resources online" and a presentation on Sunday morning "Scottish Poor Law."

The interview is most informative. If your interest in Scottish family history resources is beyond the basics you should definitely listen to it and consider taking advantage of Patricia's workshop and/or presentation.

For anyone who is researching ancestors who lived in the Dundee area, the Friends of Dundee City Archives website will be a useful resource. In particular check out the Dundee Directories offering snapshots of people, businesses and streets in 1782, 1818, 1840, 1850, 1872, 1882 and 1896.  The website also has other unique records, as well as many interesting articles about the history of the city. The website of the Nine Incorporated Trades of Dundee is another useful area resource.

Temporary closure of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

The following is important information for anyone hoping to use these facilities this year or early in 2013:
From the week commencing Monday 10th September 2012 Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives will be temporarily closing to enable the restoration/replacement of the building's roofs and the installation of a new lift.We expect to re-open early in 2013 and willkeep you updated when we have a confirmed date. We regret the inconvenience this is likely tocause to our users. We will be offering a limited remote enquiry service by phone and emailduring our period of closure.

19 July 2012

London Borough of Harrow burial records now at Deceased Online

The following is a press release from Deceased Online

All burial records for the seven cemeteries managed by the London Borough
of Harrow in West London have been added to www.deceasedonline.com.
• The data comprises digital burial register scans, grave details and maps
indicating the location of graves within each cemetery.
• The seven cemeteries are
Eastcote Lane; over 4,700 burials, 1922 - 2012
Harrow; over 9,500 burials, 1888 - 2012
Harrow Weald; over 12,000 burials,1937 - 2012
Paines Lane; approximately 3,600 burials from 1860 - 2009 (note, records pre-1931 will be added within the next few weeks)
Pinner New; over 18,000 burials, 1932 - 2012
Roxeth Hill; nearly 700 burials, 1902 – 1977
Wealdstone; approximately 10,200 burials, 1902 - 2011
• Harrow Council is the 8th London council to have its burial and/or cremation
data included on Deceased Online.
• See the database coverage section at  www.deceasedonline.com for data
details of all London and other UK areas.

Ancestry adds UK, Midlands and Various UK Trade Directories, 1770-1941

The 8,555,301 records in this collection are from trade, city, and other directories, primarily from the Midlands area in England.
I looked at the contents for Birmingham. The earliest volumes included are: 1770 The Streets and Inhabitants of Birmingham, and 1777 Birmingham 120 Years Ago (Published 1896). It includes Wrightson's Triennial Directory of Birmingham for 1815, 1818, 1823, 1830, 1833, and 1839. There are single issues of Pigot`s, the Post Office, White`s, Slater`s, Dix`s directories, then a series of 46 Kelly`s directories between 1872 and 1939.
For Wolverhampton the Red Book is included with good coverage between 1892 to 1941.
The data is directories is usually sparse, typically last name, initials and address, and in the early years only for those prepared to pay for inclusion. Directories are especially useful for filling in between census years to explore when addresses change or someone is no longer listed.
The index for this database was created using text recognition software. Records were not transcribed. Images of the originals are linked.

The Dover Express

Not an express train but a local weekly newspaper, The Dover Express was established in 1858. The British Newspaper Archive now has a long run of 2,317 issues available for searching from January 1875, when it was a four-pager, to December 1949 by which time it had expanded to 12 pages.
The Dover Express circulated across East Kent so look for local and district news from and of interest in Deal, Dover, Canterbury, Folkestone, Shorncliffe (major army facility), and smaller communities. This was the area of some significant coalfields as well as coastal industries.
It continues to publish to this day from offices collocated with those of the Folkestone Herald in Folkestone. Its online presence is at thisiskent.co.uk.

18 July 2012

WW1 British airman records

An announcement from TNA about the service records of the 320,000 airmen to serve with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and its forebears now being searchable by name following the conclusion of a successful cataloguing project.

Read the TNA post at http://nationalarchives.gov.uk/news/741.htm

Ancestry adds US Border Entries and Passenger Lists for Canadian ports

Ancestry has added two new databases with entries for alien arrivals (visitors would be so much more welcoming, but that doesn't appear to be the US psyche.)

British Columbia, Canada, Border Entries and Passenger Lists, 1894-1905, "is an index to manifests of aliens crossing from Canada and entering the U.S. from British Columbia, Canada from 1894-1905. Records included in this collection include arrivals by both ship and land. The type of information generally contained in this database includes:

Ship, Railway, or Airline name
Port of departure
Date of departure
Port of arrival
Date of arrival"

There are 42,740 records in this set with links to images of originals.

U.S., Records of Aliens Pre-Examined in Canada, 1922-1954 is a collection containing card manifests that were created prior to an immigrant arriving at the US-Canada border. These cards are identical to the manifests used to record an alien’s arrival at the border.
Information in this index includes:
Any known Aliases
Marital status
Birth date
Other information which may be found on the cards includes physical description, purpose of visit, passport and other immigration information, occupation, names of friends or next of kin, and residence information.

These 74,224 records were collected at Winnipeg and Halifax, and include images of originals.

17 July 2012

Book review: Island of Hope and Sorrow: The Story of Grosse Île by Anne Renaud

BIFHSGO colleague Brooke Broadbent has an attractive new website in development to support his writing-coaching business. One of the early additions is a super review of the children's book Island of Hope and Sorrow: The Story of Grosse Île by Anne Renaud. 


London Dockland baptisms

A small collection of London Docklands baptismal records is the latest addition at findmypast.co.uk.

St Dunstan, Stepney, 10,062 records,1689-1697
George In the East, Stepney, 2,403 records, 1893-1901
St Andrews, Bethnal Green, 760 records,1843-1876

Historic Nova Scotia newspapers online

The Nova Scotia Archives have augmented their historical newspapers collection online with first four decades (1813-1853) of the Acadian Recorder, one of Halifax's most important early newspapers, as well as The Liverpool Transcript (1854-1867) from Nova Scotia's South Shore.

The Acadian Recorder printed local, national and international news stories.
The Liverpool Transcript was  a "weekly miscellany of literature, art, science, and popular information" and is a representative example of a small town newspaper in the mid-nineteenth century.

These are browse images, unfortunately, not searchable. Read them, and other papers previously available online, at: http://gov.ns.ca/nsarm/virtual/newspapers/

If you have Nova Scotia genealogical interest you might want to browse through the diverse content, including detailed information about the contents of 34 township books or record collections added last December, at http://gov.ns.ca/nsarm/

2012 London Olympic Park Through Time

"The 2012 Summer Olympic park is located in the Lower Lea River Valley in the east of London. The games were sold to the British public from the beginning as an opportunity to transform one of London’s most economically disadvantaged regions."
The quote is on ActiveHistory.ca, now one of my regular stops for keeping up with the Canadian history scene. British history isn't normal fare at the site but the writer, Jim Clifford, a Post-Doctoral Fellow at York University, wrote a blog post drawing on his dissertation on the environmental and social history of the River Lea and West Ham.

Many of us have ancestors who lived or worked in the vicinity and would have known the area.

See also The Urban Periphery and the Rural Fringe : West Ham’s Hybrid Landscape. Black and white photos do nothing to brighten the dreary appearance.

16 July 2012

Reminder: BIFHSGO conference registration

Kathy Wallace, BIFHSGO conference registrar, asked me to pass along a reminder that the conference early registration deadline is August 10.  That's a while yet, but folks do tend to disappear to lakeside cottages and distant relatives at this time of year. If those are your plans register now so you don't miss out on the savings opportunity. Go to www.bifhsgo.ca/cpage.php?pt=22 for information about the conference and to register, either online or by printing out the form for mailing with your cheque.

I'll have another reminder just before the deadline.

Fifty Shades of Grey Genealogy

"I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror. Damn my hair – it just won't behave, and damn ... I may as well do some genealogy"

First four items from http://worldnames.publicprofiler.org

1. World surname distribution for last name Grey

2. Roots of the surname Grey

3. Regional distribution of surname Grey
4. Top surname Grey forenames

5. Distribution of surname Grey in Britain in 1881, from http://gbnames.publicprofiler.org

6. Distribution of surname Grey in Britain in 1998, from http://gbnames.publicprofiler.org

7. Wikipedia entry for Grey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey

8. Interview with Kirsty Grey, Chair of the Guild of One-name Studies: http://anglo-celtic-connections.blogspot.ca/2012/03/interview-with-kirsty-grey.html

9. Grey County, Ontario www.grey.ca/

10. Grey Roots, historical museum in Owen Sound www.greyroots.com/

11. Lady Jane Grey, http://www.britroyals.com/tudor.asp?id=jane_grey

12. Ancestry page on Grey family history: http://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=grey

13. Grey family genealogy forum, http://genforum.genealogy.com/grey/

14. Earl Grey Tea, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_Grey_tea

15. Lady Grey Tea, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Grey_(tea)

16. The Grey page at Geni.com, http://www.geni.com/surnames/grey

17. Howick Hall, owned by the Grey family since 1319, http://www.howickhallgardens.org/familyhistory.php

18. FreeBMD currently contains 11,969 Grey births

19. FreeBMD currently contains 8,885 Grey marriages

20. FreeBMD currently contains 8,808 Grey deaths

21. There are 187 members in the Gray/Grey surname group at Family Tree DNA http://www.familytreedna.com/group-join.aspx?Group=Gray.

22. Latest Grey tweet: "If they don't cast Christian Grey just perfect in this Fifty Shades of Grey movie...I'm.going.to.be.pissed"

23. The Earl Grey Family Papers, a major source for British military history of the 18th century, are at Durham University, http://www.dur.ac.uk/library/asc/collection_information/cldload/?collno=52

24. The GenealogyWise group for the Grey name is at http://www.genealogywise.com/group/graygreysurnames

25. The Africian Grey Parrot, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Grey_Parrot  Not to be confused with the Norwegian Blue, http://youtu.be/npjOSLCR2hE

26. Pierre Grey's Lakes Provincial Park, Alberta, http://albertaparks.ca/pierre-grey's-lakes.aspx

27. Deb Grey, first Reform Party MP, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deborah_Grey

28. Greyhound, for genealogical travel, http://www.greyhound.com/

29. Yerg Inc. has been serving accounting professionals nationally for 99 years (Grey backwards), http://yergpads.com/index.php?main_page=page&id=1

30. 132 people by name Grey have WW1 graves recognized by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, 6 were Canadian.

31. 84 people by name Grey have WW2 graves recognized by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, 3 were Canadian.

32. The Ottawa Public Library has 1,104 items authored by persons named Grey.

33. 1,010 persons named Grey are in the LAC Soldiers of the First World War - CEF database.

34. 11 people named Grey are in the LAC North West Mounted Police (NWMP) - Personnel Records, 1873-1904 database.

35. 48 people named Grey are in the LAC Soldiers of the South African War (1899 - 1902) database.

36. There are 2,688,748 entries for Grey in the FamilySearch.org database.

37. There more than 2.1 million hits on Grey in the British Newspaper Archive database.

38. There are 2,765,349 results for Grey at flickr.com

39. The Ngram English corpus of books for the word Grey has a peak in the 1920s.

40. The Grey Cup was first awarded in 1909, the winning team being the Grey Cup University of Toronto Varsity Blues.

41. There are no people named Grey certified by the Board for Certification of Genealogists, and nobody by that name is a member of the Association of Prefessional Genealogists.

42. The Proceedings of the Old Bailey database contains 278 people of surname Grey. http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/forms/formMain.jsp

43. Jennifer Grey is an American actress who starred in the film Dirty Dancing. She should not be confused with Jenny Grey. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000426/

44. To spice it up a bit, how about some Grey Poupon, http://www.kraftbrands.com/greypoupon/

45. OGS has a Bruce and Grey Branch, http://bruceandgreygenealogy.ca/

46. The US Social Security Death Index (Ancestry version) has 144,979 entries for Grey with default match setting and 3,585 with exact match setting.

47. The US Social Security Death Index (FamilySearch version) has 97,631 entries for Grey.

48. Grey occurs in 20 posts in the history of this blog.

49. There are about 121,000 hits for last name Grey on findmypast.co.uk

50. There are 170 Grey burials in the OGS Cemetery Ancestor Search database.

15 July 2012

FMP adds North Yorkshire and new plastic surgery records

If you have ancestors baptized between 1600 and 1869 in the North Yorkshire communities of Danby (Glaisdale), Egton, Gilling (Forcett), Guisborough, Kirby Fleetham, Manfield, Ormesby (Eston), Richmond, Sessay, Stanwick St John, Ugglebarnby, Whitby (Sleights) a new addition to findmypast.co.uk may be of help.

Also at findmypast.co.uk, a new collection of records for 2,328 men who received facial plastic surgery from Dr Harold Gillies between 1917 and 1925. He worked at The Queen's Hospital in Sidcup, Kent. Owing to the sensitive nature of the full record only transcription indexes are online. There are Canadian servicemen patients included.

Deceased Online records to double

Drought has been an elusive phenomenon in Britain these days but there's been a bit of a new data drought on Britain`s deceased online site since the beginning of June.  Deceased online is the central database for UK burials and cremations. It's now getting in tune with flood times ìn Britain and will double the number of records on the site by the end of the year.

Expect the next new cemetery, one from London, in the next few days. There will be more, both public and private cemeteries, and especially from the London area but also the West Midlands and Yorkshire. Watch for announcements here as they become available.

Marriage and Age Differences

The GenealogyInTime Magazine Newsletter for 14 July 2012 includes an interesting item Marriage and Age Differences. It points out a genealogy brick wall solution showing how to estimate the birth date of one spouse knowing the birth date of the other spouse and the year in which they were married.

The source is an item Marriage and life expectancy from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research which also has marriage advice.

A woman's life expectancy is shorter the greater the age difference from her husband, irrespective of whether she is younger or older than him. However, the younger his wife, the longer a man lives. Women marrying a partner seven to nine years younger increase their mortality risk by 20 percent compared to couples where both partners are the same age. But the mortality risk of a husband who is seven to nine years older than his wife is reduced by eleven percent.
Other interesting items at the Institute site include: What the electric meter tells us about the birthrate; and You are where you e-mail.

14 July 2012

English genealogy webinar

Gail Dever from the Quebec Family History Society wrote mentioning "a terrific free webinar about English genealogy" given by Claire Brisson-Banks in the Legacy Family Tree webinar series. It's archived until July 23; you can play it in sections, stop and start it to take notes and make a cup of tea.

Link from the QFHS website at http://qfhs.ca/cpage.php?pt=53 or directly at http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/Webinars.asp#archives

Birth year challenge

Here's a challenge in resolving conflicting evidence

A US census record taken on Friday 15 April 1910 showing a boy aged 10
A Canadian province civil registration certificate for a marriage on Thursday 1 June 1922 showing his age as 23
A Canadian military attestation paper showing him enlisting on Friday 12 May 1916 with age given as 18 years and birth-date Friday 31 December 1897. The minimum age for enlistment was 18.
A US state birth certificate showing Monday 2 January 1899 as his birth-date registered on the last day allowable before a penalty for late registration had to be paid.

Please leave a comment on how you came to your conclusion despite the conflicting evidence.

13 July 2012

DNA update

A couple of DNA news items slipped being posted here while I was otherwise occupied, but still merit a mention.

  • A couple of days remain to take advantage of Family Tree DNA's summer sale which ends on the 15th. There's an $80 reduction on a Family Finder (autosomal) test which both men and women can take to identify others in the database who may be close relatives, as distant as 4th cousin more of less. That's $100 less than the equivalent test at 23andMe although there you get health-related genetic information as well and results for mitochondrial and Y-DNA (for males). 23andMe have a larger database but likely fewer clients with genealogical interest. The FTDNA special has discounts on other tests including a first time ever upgrade discount to a 111 marker Y-DNA test.
  • The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation database at www.smgf.org has been updated with new Y and mitochondrial DNA data. If you tested with SMGF, would like to compare your DNA results from elsewhere, or are just curious to see the type of results obtained for people with your surname this is a place to go. You need a free registration for access. Your Genetic Genealogist has additional information.

Supreme Court copyright ruling

Unless you're a legal eagle or copyright nerd Thursday's Supreme Court of Canada ruling, characterized as "an undisputed win for fair dealing that has positive implications for education and innovation, while striking a serious blow to copyright collectives such as Access Copyright," will likely fly way over your head as it did mine.
Blogger and topic expert Michael Geist has an unusually long posting here. He ends that "the big takeaway is that the Supreme Court has delivered a vision of copyright that emphasizes balance, user rights, and innovation."  Good news.

New at LAC

Library and Archives Canada have been placing online additional content almost every day. Most of it is relatively modest in scope, Flickr photographs, blog posts, and just this week a YouTube channel. On Thursday it was the announcement below:

A new gateway for finding out about Canada’s heritage will soon be opening up online: Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is developing a modernized website that will make it easier for you and Canadians everywhere to access its holdings. The new site includes a suite of helpful features and content, including drop-down menus, introductory and educational videos, a blog pilot project as well as quick links to LAC's social media platforms. The new site is one of the first federal sites to conform to the new Government of Canada design, with a set-up that already follows the new Treasury Board Secretariat Standard on Web Usability. It includes navigational aids that allow you to quickly browse what the site has to offer, and to complete the most popular online tasks. You will find it easier to discover the collection, do online research, get copies of materials and plan a visit to LAC, as well as access services designed for professionals, such as publishers, librarians and archivists. A short video also introduces you to the work LAC does, and a second video explains the basics of online research. As content from LAC’s existing website is steadily migrated to the new one, during this transition period both websites will remain online with uninterrupted user access to both. The site will be completed by summer 2013, when all of LAC’s existing Web content will have been transferred. Visit the new LAC site and find out for yourself what LAC is doing to make its information resources easy to find, increasingly available and accessible to all Canadians.

Interesting as this is it's largely window-dressing and exhibition type material not making much of a dent in the more than 95% of archival material at LAC not online. When will we hear detailed plans, and even better experience the product of some serious heavy lifting to make this material available across Canada on the web as LAC management professes is its intention?

12 July 2012

Not online

Mike More, past chair of Ottawa Branch of OGS, posted on the branch blog about the resources not online, especially those in the branch library at the Ottawa main city archives which will be of interest to those with local roots. He reports on progress in indexing some of the unique content which is gradually being incorporated into the OGS project called The Ontario Name Index, so far about 60,000 names.  Read Mike's blog post at http://www.ogsottawa.blogspot.ca/2012/07/off-line-records.html

FMP launch Canterbury Collection

Announced by findmypast.co.uk and now available are 128,000 images of Church of England parish baptisms, marriages, banns and burials for churches in the Archdeaconry of Canterbury covering the period 1538-2005. Parishes in Canterbury, Deal, Dover, Folkestone, Ramsgate, Sandwich and many smaller Kent communities are included.

These are images organized by parish, event and year range. When you select a parish from the drop-down list on the search page, you'll see the type of event (baptism, marriage, bann or burial) for each parish, as well as the dates that the records cover which are invariably more restricted than the full range to 2005 .

There is no name index at present; an enhanced search capability is planned for later this year. There's more on the scope of the records at http://www.findmypast.co.uk/search/life-events-bmds/canterbury/browse-images/

11 July 2012

Canadian Library Association losing community support

This opinion piece suggests the Canadian Library Association has now lost support of many library professionals as it cosies up to Daniel Caron's vision for the future of our national library services.


FMP adds records for Greenwich, Llanymawddwy, Mallwyd

Just added at findmypast.co.uk, transcriptions for: 12,832 burials from 1748 to 1793 for Greenwich (Kent); and for Llanymawddwy, Mallwyd (Merionethshire)  8,316 baptisms for 1568-1894, 1,744 marriages for 1568-1837, and 6,528 burials for 1813-1888.

UK Yesterday channel rebranding

One of the ancillary pleasures in traveling to Britain is access to more intelligent television then we're subject to in Canada. Now that's not saying much! History Television Canada, for example, thinks appropriate fare is Pawn Stars, Weird or What, Swamp People, and American Pickers, just to mention some of Tuesday's programming.

In the UK the BBC has frequent historical content, something the CBC rarely bring themselves to program. There are  also UK history channels, more than one, and also Yesterday, which had as prime time offering for Tuesday, Edwardian Farm and Ian Hislop's Age of Go-gooders with an episode called Suffer the Little Children "focusing on children's rights, with a recognition of Thomas Barnardo's philanthropic work."

Unfortunately, a press release "UKTV rebrands Yesterday channel" announces the channel will seek to appeal to a younger demographic while holding that "older people ... want to see just as much sex and violence as everyone else." From October yesterday viewers can look forward to programmes such as “British Gangsters: Faces of the Underworld” and “Fight Club: A History of Violence”.

As Seniors are joined by Baby Boomers to form the fastest-growing demographic, and with ever longer life expectancy, maybe some smart British entrepreneur will see the opportunity for a Day Before Yesterday channel.

Death of Science

Tuesday saw a demonstration on Parliament Hill of those prepared to stand up and be counted over cuts to science funding imposed by the Canadian government. Much as with the earlier demonstration by the heritage community it involved a parade, a coffin and speeches. This one had about five times more people, many taking time out from attending a large scientific conference at the Congress Centre.
While the concern was science, especially environmental science, rather than heritage there were social scientists in the crowd. One sign highlighted the long-form census.
The emphasis on evidence struck a chord with me. Some of the collection of slides below, notably one very near the end, should appeal to professional genealogists. Google < death of science twitter gallery > if the embedding doesn't work.

10 July 2012

BIFHSGO conference interview with Shirley-Ann Pyefinch

The most recent interview with one of  next September's BIFHSGO conference presenters, Shirley-Ann Pyefinch, is now posted. We cover her background, what's new at the Ottawa Family History Centre, information on her September presentation and give a shout out to the One World - One Family one day conference on August 25 in Kitchener at which she will speak on Digital Record Keeping in Genealogy.

Click here to download a PDF version of the 2012 BIFHSGO Conference Program.

Go to http://www.bifhsgo.ca/cpage.php?pt=62 to listen to the interview.

How accessible and usable are Canadian archival websites?

Do you get frustrated with non-accessible websites? Do you wonder why they're shrinking font sizes? If so maybe you can help out by participating from home in a School of Library, Archival and Information Studies project at the University of British Columbia.

My name is Lisa Snider and I am a Dual MAS/MLIS student I am conducting a research study to find out how accessible and usable Canadian archival websites are for users with and without disabilities. Even though I am focusing on archives, the results will also be applicable to libraries, historical societies, etc.
The goal of the study is to inform archivists about the possible barriers on their websites, and educate them on how to make their websites more accessible and usable for all viewers.. I am particularly interested in increasing awareness about website accessibility in archival environments.
I need more volunteer website testers!
I am looking for volunteers who self identify as either disabled or non-disabled. Volunteers will remain anonymous in the study results, and they can choose to test all 5 websites or stop at any time.
If you, or anyone you know (including patrons and colleagues), would be interested in volunteering please contact me at lsnider@interchange.ubc.ca. Also feel free to pass this email along to others and to any disability related organizations and listservs as well.
I have attached the volunteer call letter (with more details) in PDF format to this email, and I have also put the information (and PDF) online on my website:
Any help you can provide is much appreciated.

Transatlantic satellite TV at 50

Today, we take for granted being able to watch Wimbledon or the Olympic Games as they happen across an ocean. That only became possible on 10 July 1962, 50 years ago today, with the launch of the first Telstar satellite.

However, unlike today's geostationary communication satellites Telstar was in an orbit which meant service was intermittent. It required huge antennas to track the satellite, a far cry from today's pizza pan satellite TV dishes, part of the technology that allows extended families to keep in touch and, arguably, been a stimulus for the popularity of family history as a hobby.

Interestingly this was also the time when the world was at a peak of optimism, as shown by the Ngram.

09 July 2012

FamilySearch updates Canadian records

A quick note about updates to Canadian records posted by FamilySearch last week:
Ontario Marriages, 1869-1927 has 609,175 transcript records. 
Saskatchewan, Probate Estate Files, 1887-1931 consists of 41,261 records with images for the complete file.

How well off were your late 19th century British ancestors?

I've been reviewing a recent book on the History of the British Meteorological Office and was surprised to read that the office's director, Robert Scott, was receiving the same salary when he retired at the end of 1899 as he had when he assumed the position in 1867.
However, that same salary was worth more in real terms, something that seems quite unusual for those of us who've lived through a time when inflation, more or less, has been a given for the economy.
It was a period of falling prices and increasing industrial efficiency. Check the retail price index at http://www.measuringworth.com/ukcompare/relativevalue.php which shows that by the end of the century prices were a bit over 80% of what they were in 1867.
The farm gate price of wheat was reduced half, barley, oats, coal and textiles down by one third. Britain operated a free trade regime, cheap imports kept prices low. The cost of transporting goods declined, by more than half by rail.  Refrigeration meant imports of perishable products like meat increased. Almost one-third of the meat sold in Britain was imported at the end of the century.
This was good if you had a job. But unemployment boomed; less than 1% unemployment rose to above 10%.

Does any of this ring a bell in today's economy?

08 July 2012

LAC article in the Ottawa Citizen

With the headline The memory-keeper's dilemma Saturday's Ottawa Citizen reports on the changes at LAC being implemented following a vision of the requirements of the internet age and the government-imposed 10% budget cut.

The focus of a 21st-century Library and Archives Canada must be to give as many Canadians as possible the chance to access the information they want online.
The government agency's research shows that in-person visits to the marble-floored building are down to 2,000 a month, whereas, online visits to the Library and Archives website are at an all-time high, consistently reaching half a million in the same timeframe. Caron's plan is to ramp-up digitization – at the moment, only 5% of the collection is available in a digital format – so anyone, anywhere can see the collection.
Daniel Caron should go back and read the preface to the Library and Archives Canada Act.
To preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations;
To be a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada;
To facilitate in Canada cooperation among communities involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge; and
To serve as the continuing memory of the government of Canada and its institutions.
M. Caron has taken part of one of these "To be a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all ..." and chosen to elevate it above the rest.  Nowhere does it say that the mandate of the organization is to serve the maximum number of people directly. That's a metric that would appeal to a bean counting economist bureaucrat, one with little appreciation for the work of libraries or archives.
The fact is that most Canadians have never and will never receive service directly from LAC. More often it's through an intermediary as when LAC resources are used in preparing a book, film, radio or TV program, or, increasingly, when LAC information is processed into more accessible formats such as those provided by Ancestry.ca and Early Canadian Online.

Read the Citizen article at: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/memory+keeper+dilemma/6899442/story.html


If you like writing citations as much as me you'll shout with joy over EasyBib, the free automatic bibliography and citation maker. First enter the source, a book,
journal, magazine of newspaper article, online database, website and some others (but not census, civil registration or other genealogical records.)  It checks a database to find the basic information. Then add detail by filling in more information in the boxes indicated. Last print or export the citation.

The free version produces results in MLA (Modern Language Association) format but you can buy access to APA and Chicago formats.

EasyBib has free iPad and iPhone versions which will also work by scanning the ISBN barcode.

There are others citation makers. See the list at 13 Types of Citation Generators.

07 July 2012

Minister Moore responds

Folks are receiving responses to letters they have sent to Heritage Minister Moore. All appear to be the same, with perhaps minor differences depending on the topic.

Thank you for writing to me about the cancellation of Library and Archives Canada's (LAC) National Archival Development Program. I appreciate you taking the time to share your views with me.
Please be assured that our Government recognizes the importance of LAC and the many services it provides, as well as the value of preserving Canada's documentary heritage.
As an agency in the Canadian Heritage Portfolio, LAC is responsible for operational decisions under the direction of the Librarian and Archivist of Canada, including those related to Budget 2012.
As such, I have taken the liberty of forwarding a copy of our correspondence to Dr. Daniel J. Caron, Deputy Head and Librarian and Archivist of Canada, so that he is aware of your concerns.
Please accept my best wishes.
The Honourable James Moore, P.C., M.P.
When there is a large volume of correspondence on an issue it is unrealistic to expect a personalized response. But it's also a signal that there has been a large volume. The minister, and his political staff, should by now be recognizing that there is an irritant that can't be ignored.

There is some indication that action would be taken in this exchange from the Minister's appearance on 29 May at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage (my transcription).

Liberal heritage critic Scott Simms.
Mr Simms  ... I want to dive into LAC because there's a fundamental gap between what it is people do in telling our story as Canadians as opposed to what we think is a place to cut for reasons of inefficiencies. When it comes to digitization its not just piling a bunch of photographs on someone to put them on a repository; there's a story there to tell. The NADP was an essential part of telling a story in the smallest of communities. I have 200 communities in my riding and some of them took advantage of this (the NADP). They're in a situation now where the expertise is not really there. Just by digitizing something we've missed the narrative. Archiving is something more than we give it credit for. Would you agree?
Moore: I think it can be seen by some obtusely as just a bureaucratic function, but I think your right. I come from a family of teachers. This is about protecting. Digitizing can become a blanket platitude for seeming like you're a la mode. It seems like a catch-phrase. Your right. it's about attracting and championing Canadian culture and history through archives, so it's an important tool of learning.
Simms: NADP was a vital tool of that. It seems like we've taken something extremely vital to the core of what you believe in. So you have to question do you believe in what it is they're doing?
Moore: Well we do, but you know look there are going to be other initiatives that Library and Archives is going to be announcing and we are going to be providing ...
Simms:  Any hints ...
Moore: No, I'll leave that for LAC  ... soon we'll have more to say on the subject.
Simms: On the Inter-library Loans issue. How did you come to that decision?
Moore:  That was LAC's decision. The way the process works this is not I the Minister going to LAC and saying here's how you're going to absorb a five or ten percent reduction, and here's how we're going to force it upon you. We ask them to come up with the five or ten percent they think is least effectively spent related to their core mandate and responsibilities. So they come to us and say if our budget is reduced here's what we think is the least effective five percent of the money we're spending.
We're waiting for the promised announcement.