31 August 2012

Anglo-Celtic Roots: Autumn 2012

The new issue, Vol 18, No 3, arrived in the mail brimming, as usual, with good reading content.

Feature Family History Research articles are:

Bound for Canada, by Andrew Frowd, is part 1 of a collection of letters sent by his grandmother Augusta (Gussie) Mary Oates recounting her experiences as an immigrant to Saskatchewan in 1912-14.

The Rowe Family Bible - a link to their Newfoundland history, by Robert P. Woodland, recounts the story surrounding a family bible with genealogical found hidden in a family home.

Searching for Uncle Percy`s Naval Records, by Betty Warburton, updates the story of Betty`s late husband`s uncle WW1 experiences first presented as a Great Moment.

A Mystery Solved in South Africa, by Helen Garson, finds the search can take you to distant lands.

Articles under Techniques and Resources are:
Discover the War of 1812: Websites, Archives and Books for the Discerning Researcher, by Glenn Wright
It`s Your Library: use It or Lose It!, by Dave Obee
plus regular columns from myself and Betty Warburton.

BIFHSGO News has items on the Evolution of Discovery by Brian Glenn, the Report on the BIFHSGO 2012 AGM by Anne Sterling, a membership update, and notice of a tour of Montreal`s Mount Royal and Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemeteries scheduled for 21 October.

It appears I was mislead in my comment in my column when I wrote that the 2012 annual update of civil registration records should be on the Archives of Ontario website by the time the column is published. It`s delayed.

OGS DNA poll update

Since I mentioned the OGS poll on DNA testing as an aid in building your family tree three days ago the number responding has more than doubled. A majority now answer they have taken a genetic genealogy test, found it very interesting and are glad they did.

30 August 2012

FMP announce partnerships

Here's good news for US genealogists, more healthy competition for Ancestry.

Partnership makes records available to findmypast.com and creates a vital source of revenue for local societies

LOS ANGELES, August 30, 2012 –Findmypast.com, an international leader in online family history research, today announced a national partnership with Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) to preserve, digitize and provide access to local records from genealogical societies across the country.

The collaborative initiative will help preserve genealogical records and provide a vital revenue stream for the societies. Throughout the remainder of 2012, findmypast.com will release records from the following pilot partners:
New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, the most authoritative source for research on New York families
Illinois State Genealogical Society
Williamson County (Texas) Genealogical Society
Via a post by Dick Eastman. Read the complete post here. Maybe one day FMP will find its way to Canada.

Lucille Campey presentation in Toronto

Toronto area residents have an opportunity to hear Lucille Campey speaking on her most recent book, Seeking a Better Future, on Thursday 20 September at 7:30pm in a lecture to the The Canadian Royal Heritage Institute, Greater Toronto - Hamilton Area Branch and The English-Speaking Union of Canada Toronto - Hamilton Branch.

The location is Blessed Sacrament Parish Hall,  24 Cheritan Avenue, Toronto ON
(One block south of Yonge Street & Lawrence Avenue). No admission charge, although a voluntary collection will be taken. Advance booking appreciated at 416-482-4909 or info@crht.ca

29 August 2012

Review: Mocavo

Mocavo advertises itself as:

"the leading free Internet search engine for genealogy. The data in our indexes only includes information of interest to family historians. You will not find Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles, or YouTube videos in your Mocavo results."

Genealogy uber-blogger Dick Eastman closely follows Mocavo developments and is quoted on the site home page:
"All my future genealogy searches will start on Mocavo.com. I've been using the site for a while during its testing and have been very impressed. I suspect you will always have better luck searching for your own surnames of interest on Mocavo.com than on any other search engine.”
A couple of months ago I was contacted by Taylor Meacham, Mocavo Marketing Director, and invited to try Mocavo Plus, "—a paid subscription that unlocks advanced search options and helps to automate research with connections from around the web." Mocavo Plus launched last December.

It has taken a while, far too long, for this review to come to the top of my priority list.

In responding to Taylor's invitation I mentioned that this blog focuses on UK and Canadian genealogy and asked about the website UK and Canada content. She responded that they cannot really track the origin of their content as it is primarily user-generated, they have content from all around the globe including a fair amount of information from the UK and Canada. As the company is US (Boulder, Colorado) based I'd expect the content to be US-oriented and not be as comprehensive for the non-US genealogical community. I found that to be the case. Two of the features listed below are US-specific. Please take that into account in reading this review.

Mocavo offers basic and Plus (subscription) services.

As the site bills itself as a genealogy search engine that's what's of most interest. There is also a blog, written by former NEHGS staffer Michael J. Leclerc, which has helpful news and advice.

The basic (free) search has one search field whereas Mocavo Plus has multiple search fields for specific queries, such as first names, last names, birth dates, death dates, etc. It claims to have the knowledge to differentiate them all to bring you the best results possible.

As my test I focused on the Northwood surname which I know to have been present in Canada, the UK and US.

A basic Mocavo search for Northwood returned 988 hits from documents, 4,764 from records and 56,495 hits from the open web.

The first documents were directories, with the nicely highlighted hits being place names. The first records were all from the US Social Security Death Index.

Results from the open web search were from: distantcousin.com, rootsweb.ancestry.com, familysearch.org, ncigs.org, interment.net, boards.ancestry.com, uk-genealogy.org.uk, genforum.genealogy.com, geni.com (lots of these), arkansasgravestones.org, and others.

My attempts to use the advanced search with the last name Northwood delivered the same results as for the simple search and this included many cases where Northwood was a location, not a name.

Any search engine has to compare itself with Google so that's what I did searching Google encrypted, so eliminating any personalization. < Northwood ~genealogy > returned 673,000 hits compared to 56,495 Mocavo open web results. Mocavo is doing a filtering job -- the question is whether it's filtering out useful hits?

Homing right in with an Mocavo Plus advanced search for Harry Northwood of Wheeling, a well known glass maker, yielded seven good hits. Searching Google for "Harry Northwood" Wheeling ~genealogy gave 237 hits including several to the book "Harry Northwood: The Wheeling Years, 1901-1925" which Mocavo failed to identify!

A Mocavo advanced search for William Northwood of Ottawa yielded 23 hits, all from the open web and most of them articles from this blog. Google yielded 63 hits.

Finally an advanced Mocavo search for John Northwood of Wordsley, also a glass-maker, yielded one document and two open web results. Google returned 203 hits.

In summary, as I suspected most of the content in records and documents is US oriented. The open web coverage seems to be less US focused. Advanced search results for this admittedly limited study show Mocavo Plus is filtering out many hits found by a Google's search with ~genealogy as an added search term, and some of those have useful information for the family historian.

The Celtic Guide

Thanks to a tweet from Debbie Kennett I found the August issue of The Celtic Guide, Jim McQuiston, editor & publisher.

Published monthly since January, the magazine is a celebration of Celtic (broadly interpreted) culture, attractively produced as a pdf. Its FREE online.

Articles in the 48 page August issue are:  Techno-geography 101; Church Records; Island Living; Clava Cairns; Black Book of Paisley; Henceforth Tales: Scott; Celtic Histories; The Gathering; Harlaw revisited - Battlefield Tour, 9th July 2012; The “Games”; Exploring your Ancestry through DNA Testing; Annals of Ulster of the Early Middle Ages: AD 500-1000; The Quest for our Scottish Ancestors.`

Most of the authors are new to me except for Debbie Kennett on Exploring your Ancestry through DNA Testing and Christine Woodcock on The Quest for our Scottish Ancestors.


28 August 2012

OGS DNA poll

The Ontario Genealogical Society have posted their 5th poll with the question:

"Have you used DNA testing as an aid in building your family tree?"

As I write this there are 63 responses with 40% answering "Yes and it was very interesting, glad I did it; and another 40% responding "No, but I am considering it."

You can participate and view the updated results at http://www.ogs.on.ca/ogsblog/

JSTOR: Register and Read

JSTOR provides online access to thousand academic journals and over 1 million images, letters, and other primary sources.  Designed for the academic community, 7,000 institutions in 159 countries are members, they presently have a beta test whereby independent researchers can register to gain limited free access to images of articles in their collection.

I discovered this facility in connection with my 24 July posting on Probability in Genealogy, which attracted more comments than most. In response I pointed to an interesting study using probabilities, the case of Thomas Jefferson as the father of Sally Hemmings' children which uses Monte Carlo techniques and Bayes Theorem. It's Coincidence or Causal Connection? The Relationship between Thomas Jefferson's Visits to Monticello and Sally Hemings's Conceptions, by  Fraser D. Neiman, is published in The William and Mary Quarterly,Third Series, Vol. 57, No. 1 (Jan., 2000), pp. 198-210.

That article is one of the million you can view free through JSTOR and although there is no download facility you can capture images of partial pages and read those off-line.

27 August 2012

URBSite: Ottawa's built heritage

URBSite is described as a chronicle of observations on Ottawa's architecture, urban design and history. Posts, about one a week, go back to May 2009.

Go to it for photographs, new and historic, by a sympathetic observer. Posts are often topical, the most recent show findings from the recent Lebreton Flats archaeological excavation in connection with the Light Transit development, and the demolition of Cathedral Hall.

The peripatetic blogger is identified only by his legs which must get quite a workout.

TNA podcast: The War of 1812: from the British side

Audrey Collins, one of my favourite British family history speakers, looks at the records for the War of 1812 in this podcast of the presentation given at The (UK) National Archives on 9 August 2012.

The orientation is to the US listener. Audrey mentions the British burning Washington, but not the Americans burning York (Toronto), nor does she give  recognition to the participation of the Canadian militia.

This talk looks at some of the men who took part in the conflict, including many prisoners on both sides, and a wealth of background material. As is often the case with Andrey's talks, she whets your appetite for resources of relevance for other time periods too.

One of the treasures mentioned of which I was unaware being online at TNA is the TNA collection of digitized printed annual Army Lists for 1754-1879.

As usual with TNA podcasts the visuals used in the presentation are not available, but Audrey has a good post with some of them on her blog at http://thefamilyrecorder.blogspot.ca/2012/08/the-war-of-1812-from-british-side.html

26 August 2012

Family Chronicle: Sept/Oct 2012 issue

Browsing in Chapters last Wednesday I was surprised to see the September/October issue of Family Chronicle already on display while my subscription copy had yet to arrive. It did on Friday.
The featured article on the front cover is "Researching Your Ancestors Occupations" by Ed Storey. In four pages it covers a potpourri of different types of records with examples from England, India, the US, and Canada.
Often Family Chronicle carries multiple articles on the featured topic. Not so with this issue which does, however, have two articles on Scottish genealogy research, highly appropriate to the theme for this year's BIFHSGO conference, at which magazine editor Ed Zapletal will be speaking, although not on Scotland.

The contents for this issue are:

A Genealogical Journey
Brian Godfrey helps one lady to discover the missing pieces from her past

Book Review: Tracing Our Roots, Telling our Stories
Melody Amsel-Arieli reviews a collection of stories from members of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada (Toronto)

Your Ancestors' Occupations
Ed Storey looks at the various record types that help you learn about your ancestors' employment

Hotels and Genealogy
David A. Norris sheds some light on which records are best for locating your ancestors' hotel stays

Understanding UK Place Names
Anthony Poulton-Smith takes us on a tour of United Kingdom place name origins

Scottish Online Resources
Alan Stewart looks at the records available for researching your Scottish ancestors

Daniel Webster Morris: The Ribbon
Gordon Wright explores the history of his ancestor's Utah Indian War Veterans Association Ribbon

The Mysterious Lizzie Jaynes
Richard Jordan looks at the mysterious life of an elusive ancestor

Finding Anna Maria Fuller Smith
Bev Vorpahl feels like the luckiest genealogist alive after almost giving up on finding her great-grandmother

Scottish Highlands Research
Amanda Epperson offers some tips on how to locate your Highland ancestors

Research Resources
A look at a variety of books from the world of genealogy.

The editor's column mentions that in the coming months changes to the layout and design to give a fresh appearance and better readability are coming. It's already evident in this issue which features larger type and more open line spacing, something most welcome for those of us with less than perfect vision.

Information on Family Chronicle, now available in a variety of formats, is at http://www.familychronicle.com/

Fall 2012 Shannon Lectures

The Shannon Lectures in History is a series of thematically linked public lectures offered annually at Carleton University made possible through the Shannon Donation to the Department of History.

The objectives of the series include:

exploring the social dimension of the past, especially the social history of Canada

demonstrating the linkages between approaches to Canadian history and international scholarship

encouraging cooperation and collegiality between different communities of historians in Canada

popularizing innovative historical methods and practices, and conveying them in a manner accessible to a general audience

The theme for the Fall of 2012 Shannon Lectures is Making Sense: History and the Sensory Past

"Our senses have histories. Practices of vision, hearing, smell, touch, and taste are not universal biological experiences. Rather, they belong to socially constructed ways of knowing that have changed over time and across diverse cultural contexts. Recognizing sensory perception as both a physical and a cultural act encourages us to historicize human bodies; it compels us to think about how the embodied practices through which we know the world are historically and culturally specific. Sensory histories investigate how the senses have influenced the social relations and cultural formations of various historical periods; how the senses have contributed to understandings of gender, race, class, ability and other constructions of identity; how discourses about normative sensory experience have been politically deployed; and how the senses have shaped human experiences of the physical environment.

Historians and other scholars are increasingly looking to the senses to understand the past. As a dynamic cultural mode of analysis, sensory histories are expanding the purview of social and cultural history. By devoting the 2012 Shannon Lectures to an historical examination of the senses, we hope to encourage a wide-ranging engagement with this burgeoning field of historical study. Spanning several regions and historical periods, our invited scholars will bring a range of interdisciplinary scholarly traditions to bear on the senses. Their innovative work will illuminate the ways that sense research might enlarge our understanding of both the past and the present and contribute to the ongoing formation of social and cultural histories, in Canada and beyond."

Read about the speakers at http://www2.carleton.ca/history/events/shannon-lecture/shannon-lectures-2012/speakers/

The schedule is not yet available.


25 August 2012

Rugby and Southam parish record transcriptions now at Find My Past

The Warwickshire parishes of Rugby and Southam are the latest to have their records added at findmypast.co.uk. Search for your ancestors in 23,000 new records on findmypast.co.uk
For Rugby there are nearly 13,000 total records for baptisms (1559-1876);  marriages (1559-1837) and; burials (1560-1901)
For Southam the approximately 10,300 total records are for marriages and banns (1757-2011) and; burials (1539-2012).

All are transcriptions from the original record.

Ancestry update Dorset parish record databases

Ancestry, Find My Past and Family Search all have Dorset records online so there's lots of opportunity to search in these records from afar. This week, a slow one for new data, Ancestry updated the Dorset parish records in their collection to now include:

Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812, 1,230,256 records
Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906, 395,633 records
Marriages and Banns, 1813-1921, 400,361 records
Deaths and Burials, 1813-2001, 340,014 records
Confirmations, 1850-1921, 13,470 records

24 August 2012

Genealogists use of libraries

This post is inspired by a post Canadian Book Buyers and Their Relationship to Libraries on the Booknet Canada blog.

Asked how frequently Canadian book buyers visited a library a survey found that in the first quarter of 2012, 59.43% of book buyers claim to have visited the library within the last 12 months. Of those respondents, 19.4% visit the library, either in person or online, 2 to 3 times a month and 16.3% visited once a month.

I mention libraries as a genealogical resource often and would like to know how much they are used by genealogists and family historians. Please respond to this one item poll and include visits to libraries of all types, society, public, university, etc even if not all visits were for genealogical purposes.

Being the TV expert

An eloquent recounting of experiences surrounding being a genealogist expert on the latest UK episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, which was a sad story, is in a blog post by Janet Few, "The History Interpreter." http://thehistoryinterpreter.wordpress.com/latest-news-from-the-history-interpreter/

23 August 2012

Free access to Ancestry immigration records

It you don't subscribe to Ancestry, and don't want to travel to your nearest public access site, you have an opportunity to search and view all of their worldwide immigration records from now to 25th August 2012. You will need to register and agree to abide by their terms and conditions of service.

The top five databases in Ancestry's Immigration and Travel category are, in order of number of records:

New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 - 82,905,466 records
UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960 -16,309,783 records
New South Wales, Australia, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1826-1922 -  8,436,409 records
Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 - 7,286,089 records
Honolulu, Hawaii, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1900-1959 - 6,149,341 records 

Why not to do the AncestryDNA test

CeCe Moore, Your Genetic Genealogist, posts a sad story about the DNA arm of Ancestry.com and the heartache they have caused. That would not have happened if, like FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe, they released the individual's basic data. Withholding one's own data is unconscionable. One wonders whether they have something to hide.
The post also has information about comparing the DNA profiles of particular interest to adoptees and generally in understanding your results compared to others.
Debbie Kennett also has posts on her blog about AncestryDNA with a British perspective, here and here.
Although I've not tested with AncestryDNA I cannot advise others to use the service as long as they continue to withhold individual's basic data.

LAC posts Dieppe Raid images

Library and Archives Canada has posted 28 images to Flickr  on the occasion of the Dieppe Raid, also known as “Operation Jubilee,”  The Allied attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe, France took place on August 19, 1942, supported by over 5000 Canadian soldiers and was planned to test German fortifications. According to the Wikipedia article, no major objectives of the raid were accomplished. A total of 3,623 of the 6,086 men (almost 60%) who made it ashore were either killed, wounded, or captured.

22 August 2012

Striking similarity

"He looks just like his father." How often have you heard that said about a child?

I've been reading an article "Sally Hemings's Children: genealogical analysis of the evidence" by Helen Leary published in the (US) National Genealogical Society Quarterly of September 2001. Hemings was a slave in Predident Thomas Jefferson's household at Monticello. In the article Leary examines "the chain of evidence that securely fastens Sally Hemings's children to their father Thomas Jefferson." Part of the evidence mentioned is the "striking similarity" between Sally's son Madison Hemings and Thomas Jefferson.

However such similarities in appearance can occur when there is no known family relationships. For example, there are job opportunities for Sarah Palin look-alikes at strip clubs for the forthcoming Republican National Convention! Google it!

Local genealogical guru Alison Hare CG tells me she can't think of any other cases where similarities in appearance, or commonalities of speech and mannerisms have been used in proving a genealogical case, perhaps because most studies involve more distant generations than the Hemings case.

What's striking similarity? If you see the person approaching from the other direction in the street and greet them as someone you know, only to find it's a look-alike, that would be striking similarity.

Let's explore our experience. Please answer the poll and leave a comment with your experience if it would be helpful.



Ottawa Public Library biographical scrapbooks

The OPL has a collection of clippings extracted primarily from Ottawa newspapers with some periodical entries for dates ranging from 1939 to 1975 and a few clippings as early as 1911. More than 5,500 persons are included, all Canadian or of Canadian significance with a particular emphasis on individuals from the Ottawa area.

The scrapbooks, arranged alphabetically by surname with an index, are found in the Ottawa room.

21 August 2012

Getting started in family history: Ottawa Public Library programs

For those in the Ottawa area the Ottawa Public Library is offering a number of sessions this fall. They require advance registration

Genealogy on the Internet (Part One) is being offered at the Greeley branch on Tuesday, 25 September at 6:30 PM, and again at the Main Library on Saturday, 29 September at 9:30 AM. There is a follow-up Part Two session, also at the Main Library on Saturday, October 13 at 9:30 AM.

Hands-on sessions on using the Ancestry Library database are being offered at the Greenboro Branch on Wednesday, October 3 at 10 AM and Nepean Centerpointe on Saturday, November 24 at 9:30 AM.

Advanced registration is required for all of these at 613-580-2940.

Information on other OPL genealogy programs and sessions is at http://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/main/interest/learn/genealogy

Feeling your age?

When you look around do you generally see people younger or older than yourself? How does that make you feel? How did your ancestors feel when they did the same thing?
Here's a plot of the median age of Canadians (half older, half younger) since 1851. Canada was very young, the median age less than 20 at the start of the period, but notice how the median age increased by 20 years in the 20th century, and the interruptions for the two world wars and the 1918 influenza. (major data source: The Population of Canada (1974) at http://www.cicred.org/Eng/Publications/pdf/c-c7.pdf)

The World median age is now 28.4 (2010 estimate) with 23 mainly European countries having a median age older than Canada's, that's according to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_median_age )

20 August 2012

Book Review: Imperial Immigrants: Scottish settlers in the Upper Ottawa Valley, 1815-1840

Imperial Immigrants: Scottish settlers in the Upper Ottawa Valley, 1815-1840
Michael E. Vance
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Natural Heritage (Aug 20 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1554887569
ISBN-13: 978-1554887569
Cover price: CDN$ 32.99

Michael Vance, a Nova Scotia history professor, has been researching and writing about the Scots who settled in the Ottawa Valley in the early 19th century for 20 years. It shows in this recent book in which he argues that "their migration and settlement reveal as much about the depth of social conflict in the homeland and in the colonies as they do about preoccupations of the British imperial state."

Drawing on primary, contemporary and modern secondary sources documented in an eight page bibliography and nearly 40 pages of notes, the major part of the book comprises seven chapters any one of which could stand on its own. Together they form a mosaic that permits one to better appreciate the confluence of interests and influences surrounding the migration and settlement.

The first two chapters deal with the acquisition of the land from the native population and settlement by former soldiers, all to stabilize the area against possible future incursions from the United States following the war of 1812-14. Chapters three and four look at the circumstances that led to strengthening this presence through Scottish emigration from the Breadalbane estate in Perthshire from 1815 and of weavers and others from the area around Paisley from 1820. Chapters five and six focus on the settlers political and religious attitudes and the role of the church, with an emphasis on women's secondary status. The final chapter looks at personal journals articles and books that recall the settlers experience and their revealed perspectives.

In addition to line maps and the author's photographs the book is illustrated with reproductions of contemporary engravings which assists Vance, much as a Rorschach inkblot, in supporting the book's themes.

For the genealogist whose ancestors migrated to the upper Ottawa Valley, and particularly the area known as the Rideau Purchase (1819) around Perth, the book provides valuable context to their family history. I don't and feel jealous of those who can benefit from this detailed study.

Popular baby names for 2011 in England and Wales

The Office of National Statistics start something new, a video release of the top baby names for 2011.

Find further detail at http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/baby-names--england-and-wales/2011/index.html

Interview with Lucille Campey

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

Lucille Campey is a British-based Ottawa-born writer and speaker who will be giving three talks at the BIFHSGO conference.

  • Lord Selkirk and the Settlement of Scottish Highlanders in Canada
  • Seeking a Better Future: The English Pioneers of Ontario and Quebec
  • The Scots in Ontario—a New Look at the Data
More on Lucille is at the recently updated website www.englishtocanada.com

19 August 2012

Evasion and deception at Library and Archives Canada

On July 31 Library and Archives Canada published an article Archives vs. Mould: Facts on Fungus on its blog.

In response I posted a short comment:
"I was recently informed that a unique historic newspaper in the LAC collection was destroyed due to mold without being copied. Why would that occur?"
The response from LAC was:
"Thank you for your question. Library and Archives Canada (LAC) did not destroy a unique historic newspaper from its collection, as this course of action would violate the institution’s policy. 
The management of LAC’s holdings is guided by a commitment that ensures that holdings are relevant and preserved in a state that the public will find useful, now and in the future.
LAC is not and will not be destroying any unique or un-copied material from its holdings. When disposition of a newspaper is considered, we first ensure that its content is available through duplicate copies or other formats such as microfilm or digital versions. Only then may we consider the disposition option."
Whatever the policy, the practice is reflected in this response I received from LAC
on May 1 this year, prior to the original blog posting,  regarding a request to access the Ottawa Citizen for 1 May 1912 which is not on microfilm
“Unfortunately LAC does not hold the May 1, 1912 edition of the Ottawa Citizen on paper anymore. Several copies of the newspaper were deselected because they were damaged.”
I subsequently received the following clarification:
“In June 2011 Library and Archives Canada was forced to remove from its collection newspapers that were damaged and contaminated by mold. Some newspapers have been irreparably damaged and consequently making them unusable. Combined with the high risk to the health of its employees, LAC felt obligated to remove the newspapers from circulation.”
My request to please explain how this is consistent with policy went unanswered in the blog although I did receive a personal response stating that "the blog is intended to be a channel for discussion on our services and collections and not our policy" so there would no public response.

That personal reply added that:
LAC is not removing any unique or un-copied material from its holdings as this edition of the Ottawa Citizen is available in microfilm format from other institutions (not so). As you are mentioning on your blog, you have visited other institutions and could not find a better quality print of that issue. I therefore suggest that you contact directly the Ottawa Citizen and find out if they still have an original copy of that issue.

This edition of the Ottawa Citizen was deemed inaccessible for public consultation due to its poor condition, as per the evaluation by our experts.
As this final paragraph suggested the newspaper might still be in the collection but in a state that it could not be produced I asked for further clarification and was informed:
LAC does not have in its collection a paper copy of the Ottawa Citizen for 1 May 1912.
While the Ottawa Citizen may well have a copy they have made it clear in the past on several occasions that their corporate newspaper archive is not open to the public. One can draw no other conclusion but that LAC deliberately disposed of a newspaper copy that was unique. LAC should have confirmed public availability.

If destruction of that copy was a mistake it would be better for the organization to admit it rather than practicing evasion and deceit to pretend that policy and practice are totally aligned LAC.

How many other unique Canadian newspapers have been destroyed in this way contrary to policy?

This small episode is symptomatic of a larger problem at LAC which cherry picks amongst the obligations it has under the Library and Archives Canada Act of 2004. Whereas an individual citizen can be prosecuted for any violation of the law Library and Archives Canada seems to treat the law as a menu from which it can select those parts to which it chooses to adhere.

FamilySearch updates Northumberland miscellaneous registers

Family Search continues to update this collection of browse records from the North of England, which includes a very few records from Durham. There are now 142,123 records in total from 1570-2005 the bulk being early 20th century electoral registers from Northumberland.

If FamilySearch were Proctor and Gamble the update would read "now with added Cumberland."

The Cumberland addition is marriage and burial registers from the mid-19th century for the parish of Nenthead, a former lead mining village in the North Pennines.

18 August 2012

Closing doors on Canada's history

Well known Ottawa writer Valerie Knowles adds her voice to those in opposition to the federal government's treatment of its own libraries and archives. She calls for the policies in effect at Library and Archives Canada to be altered to protect Canada’s knowledge base and heritage.


TNA podcast: coroners' inquests

From a presentation at TNA on 4 August, Dr Kathy Chater, an independent genealogical researcher and author, gives one of the best recent podcasts in the series, on coroners' inquests. It contains solid information, interesting anecdotes, and does not rely on visual aids that mitigate against a good translation from an in-person presentation to a podcast. While newspaper reports are often the best resource on coroners' inquests, depending on the dates and places there are quite a few others that can be helpful – if you know where to look. Highly recommended.

Note that there is a copy of the Gibson's Guide on Coroners' Records mentioned in the BIFHSGO library.


No Family Tree Maker 2013

Looks like Ancestry has run out of ideas enough to warrant publishing a 2013 version of FTM.

"We’re doing things a little different this year. Instead of creating a new version of the software, the team has been putting all of its resources into improving Family Tree Maker 2012 so you get new bonus features throughout the year."



17 August 2012

Ancestry adds UK, Death Duty Registers Index, 1796-1811

Ancestry.com announce the addition of UK, Death Duty Registers Index, 1796-1811 with 72,701 entries.
This is a database directly from TNA, a web link so you have the convenience of searching directly from Ancestry. You pay extra to see the original record at the TNA site.
There's comprehensive test information about this data set, including much later entries than presently linked through Ancestry at: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/death-duty.asp

Return of US Who Do You Think You Are?

Dick Eastman is reporting a Facebook post by WDYTYA co-executive producer Dan Bucatinsky:

"WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?" on DVD ! And Season 3 coming soon. Look for an all new season in 2013!!! on an all new network!
Given the time taken for production, if this comes to pass, it would certainly go to air later next year.
The lesson from last season was that lesser celebrities don't attract the audience. Is someone prepared to put up the money to attract the better-known celebrities, in which case it could reappear on another major network. Or will they downscale to what is viable on a cable network in which case we can probably look forward to lots of reruns.
The producers might also consider importing some of the existing episodes from the British or other WDYTYA series, with appropriate reediting for the US market. After all, there is a precedent from the London Olympics for the US only getting tape delayed coverage from Britain!

What's wrong at LAC?

While coverage of the deterioration of service at Library and Archives Canada has decreased over the summer the concern continues.
The Bibliographical Society of Canada has posted a thoughtful letter directed to Members of Parliament recommending that members ensure changes at LAC do not transgress Parliament’s obligations under the Library and Archives Canada Act.

Some of the points made are:

  • LAC has yet to submit its budget to the Parliamentary Budget Officer despite a request that it do so
  • abolition of interlibrary loan service
  • lack of specialist/dedicated archivists
  • promised new model service delivery ignores copyright limitations; How will LAC/BAC be able to deliver a printed work in digital form if that work’s still under copyright?
  • people untrained in archival or library practices do the major and fundamental work of writing official descriptions
  • New Book Service on LAC’s website not being updated
  • Amicus, the national library catalogue, not being properly maintained
  • Cutting entirely the National Archival Development Program while downloading responsibilities to local and regional archives
Read the full letter at http://www.bsc-sbc.ca/en/letter.pdf

16 August 2012

Ancestry adds UK Articles of Clerkship, 1756-1874

A database of 49,371 records associated with articles of clerkship for young men apprenticed to attorneys for the years 1756–1874.

The source is Court of King's Bench: Plea Side: Affidavits of Due Execution of Articles of Clerkship, Series I, II, III. The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey; and Registers of Articles of Clerkship and Affidavits of Due Execution. The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

Historical Background
The articles of clerkship referenced in these records were contracts between an apprentice clerk, who wanted to become an attorney or solicitor, and an attorney who agreed to train the clerk for the profession. The contracts were often entered into by fathers (or other sponsors) on their sons’ behalf, with terms typically lasting 5–7 years.

What You May Find in These Records
This database includes two different types of records associated with articles of clerkship:

The first are affidavits of due execution. These are essentially letters or depositions stating that the terms of the clerkship have been completed. They will typically list the following details:
clerk’s name, parish, and town
clerk’s father’s name
name of the attorney to whom the clerk was bound
name of person swearing to the affidavit
date of the affidavit
term of clerkship

The second are registers recording articles of clerkship and affidavits. These may include the following details:
clerk’s name and residence
clerk’s father’s name and residence
attorney’s name and residence
name of person swearing to the affidavit
dates of articles (when sworn, filed, read in court)

Don't despair if you find you had ancestors disreputable enough to become lawyers!

WDYTYA: Samantha Womack

The first in the new BBC series of Who Do You Think You Are got underway on Wednesday evening with personable actress Samantha Womack pursuing the stories of two of  her father's ancestor, both of whom it turned out had black marks against their names.
In addition to the inevitable shots of people sitting in front of computers, true reality for much searching these days if not fascinating television, there were visits to a large number of archives and similar institutions in the UK and US.  Included was the Society of Genealogists where Else Churchill was the expert. After an obligatory few seconds of searching with Samantha, Else made it clear a large amount of research had been done beforehand by reaching for a folder with copies of key civil registration certificates.
I was pleased to see the value of newspapers reinforced in that they proved to be key records in both cases.
The program was spoiled by a couple of leaps of logic that I failed to follow, or maybe I just blinked; not likely to disturb the average viewer but aggravating for the genealogist looking to understand how the case was built.

Kent memorial inscriptions

A free website from the Kent Archaeological Society gives details of early memorial inscriptions for many Kent churchyards to 1923.

Searched by scanning the individual graveyard, or follow instructions for searching the entire site.

Thanks to Christine Jackson to bringing to my attention

15 August 2012

Our Name in History

Searching today on Amazon for books on Bayes Theorem I found "The Bayes Name in History" author and publisher Ancestry.com.

The blurb mentioned that the book is "part of the Our Name in History series, a collection of fascinating facts and statistics, alongside short historical commentary, created to tell the story of previous generations who have shared this name. The information in this book is a compendium of research and data pulled from census records, military records, ships' logs, immigrant and port records, as well as other reputable sources."

I was a bit surprised that Ancestry.com would produce this, then noticed a publication date of 2007, before the company exited the publishing business.

Investigating further revealed a blog post by Dick Eastman from 2006 which gave the series a kind review. "For the non-genealogist, this is an easy way to learn a little bit with no effort".  "I believe that anyone who has been seriously looking for their ancestors for more than a few weeks will not find "Our Name in History" to be worth the price of $49.95 plus shipping."

What's changed since 2006 is the price is now down to $19.95 for a paperback edition, and $6.39 for the Kindle version. An example of the benefit (?) of print on demand and the low cost of eBooks.

G n’ T history

What better a drink during the dog days of summer?  That's the question posed by Jay Young in this brief history of Britain's favourite drink, except for a few others.


14 August 2012

More than the Y chromosome

John Grenham's Irish Roots column for the Irish Times is a regular Monday morning stop for me. His latest, Swimmers or Spellers? is a case where he's off track IMHO. He writes "Only one kind of (genetic genealogy) test is unambiguously useful: a yDNA test ..." He continues "Comparing yDNA from Grenham males with roots in Roscommon and those from Kent can objectively identify when our most recent common ancestor lived."

While non-paternity events can confound things I don't argue with his example of the utility of a yDNA test. But his view on other genetic genealogy tests is rather behind the times; their value is already well proven.

Mitochondrial DNA testing, admittedly much less commonly useful as cases of ambiguity in the maternal line are comparatively rare, predates that for yDNA.

Instances are mounting daily of the value of autosomal testing in genealogy. Family Tree DNA's Family Finder, and 23andMe's Relative Finder both provide more than the percentage similarity to various geographical groups as mentioned in the Irish Roots article. While, like Grenham, many of us don't get particularly excited by our deep ancestry results these may provide clues to our ancestry on the other side of that impenetrable brick wall.

Likely Grenham has not experienced the thrill of serendipitously finding a DNA cousin, a member of a lost branch of the family tree, through autosomal DNA testing.

FMP adds RAF muster role 1918

New from Find My Past, "records of every serviceman enlisted with the Royal Air Force when it was created on 1 April 1918.

This collection contains records for more than 181,000 men and can tell you vital information about your RAF ancestors, including:

Job in the RAF (trade classification)
Date and terms of enlistment
Rate of pay
The men included in these records originally joined either the Royal Flying Corps or the Royal Naval Air Service. These organisations were merged to form the RAF in 1918."

The source is a printed record, one line per serviceman. You can view the original; some information may be difficult to read at one edge owing to the image having seen taken from a bound volume. It would be helpful if a list of the abbreviations used were supplied. What is K.B.S (Tele.)?

13 August 2012

Book Review: Seeking a Better Future: The English Pioneers of Ontario and Quebec

Seeking a Better Future: The English Pioneers of Ontario and Quebec
Lucille H. Campey
Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Dundurn (Aug 13 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1459703510
ISBN-13: 978-1459703513
Cover price: CDN$ 35.00

Historians agree that the English have been neglected, compared to the Irish and Scots, as a subject for Canadian studies. That extends to genealogy. The Ontario Genealogical Society recently conducted a poll asking "What regions have you been searching to build your family tree?" Of 137 respondents 114 answered Canada, 99 England, 88 US, 78 Scotland and 71 Ireland. Yet no OGS members have felt the urge to form a special interest groups for the English as exist for the Scots and Irish.

Aside from this neglect there are several challenges facing the researcher of pioneer English settlement in Canada. Some records cause confusion for statistics as Loyalist immigrants would cite their ancestry as English even though they had been in what is now the US for generations. Although there were areas where larger groups settled English people generally emigrated on their own or in very small family groups and assimilated into a community that accommodated many different ethnic groups. Organizations like the Sons of England and St. George's Societies faded while the equivalent Irish and Scottish organizations were able to continue, and maintain records, owing to the population being concentrated geographically. The overall picture of English settlement has to be discerned from surviving individual pieces of evidence, much as an image can be composed in pointillism -- but with many points missing.

Seeking a Better Future: The English Pioneers of Ontario and Quebec, the second in Lucille Campey's three book series on the English in Canada, goes some way to remedying the neglect. The book tackles the challenge systematically: chapter one an overview; a chapter devoted to Loyalist immigrants and; six chapters which roughly move from East to West very very roughly following the chronological development of English settlement although there are many many exceptions owing to Loyalist settlement, encouragement of settlement for defensive purposes, location of choice land and the efforts of land speculators and developers. There are three concluding chapters: Later Emigration from England which sketches the period after Confederation when English emigrants significantly outnumbered Scots and Irish; the Sea Crossing, and; the English in Ontario and Québec. There's also an extensive bibliography and index.

The emphasis is on the 19th century pioneer. There can hardly be an English county for which some emigration is not mentioned.

A thesis argued is that English immigration was "not primarily a flight from poverty but a manifestation of how the ambitious and resourceful English were strongly attracted by the greater freedoms and better livelihoods that could be achieved by relocating to Canada's central provinces."  Making an immigration decision is rarely predicated on a single factor, but rather, on balance, whether one sees the grass as greener on the other side. Successful immigrants look to the long term as the early months and years are often stressful as the book well illustrates.

The eleven chapters, 300 pages, are followed by a 115 page appendix listing emigrant ship crossings from England to Québec, 1817-64. Its useful reference material but the additional 20% makes the book rather hefty, an excellent argument for the Kindle and Nook eBook formats in which it is available, and at considerably reduced cost.

Seeking a Better Future is written at a high school graduate level and thoroughly researched using English and Canadian sources. Many line maps indicate areas of greater English settlement which greatly aid understanding for the geographically challenged.

As with Lucille Campey's previous books, Seeking a Better Future is a major addition to the literature for those looking for insight into their pioneer immigrant ancestor experience, in this case the English in Québec and Ontario.

Disclosure: Based on a review copy received without charge.

FreeBMD August update

The FreeBMD Database was updated on Saturday 11 August 2012 and contains 219,464,977 distinct records.

Major additions are: for births 1939, 1943-45, 1949, 1955-56, and 1958-63; for marriages 1952-53, 1955, 1957-58, 1960-65 and; for deaths 1953, 1956 and 1961-64.

12 August 2012

Evolution of music

Here's something completely different!

Darwin Tunes was/is an experiment at Imperial College, London, starting with a selection of short audio loops that "sexually reproduce and mutate" based on the selective influence of listeners who rated the loops’ aesthetic qualities.  The experimenters claim their work shows how cultural dynamics can be explained in terms of competing evolutionary forces.

Listen to an explanation and samples of the evolution at:
The scientific paper resulting from the experiment is at: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/06/12/1203182109

Chris Paton assumes new role

Chris Paton, blogger, author, researcher and speaker at September's BIFHSGO conference announces on British GENES blog he is also taking on the role of tutor with the Genealogical Studies Postgraduate Programme at the University of Strathclyde.

Chris tells me we don't have to call him Professor Paton ... yet.

Congratulations Chris.

11 August 2012

The new Deceased Online blog

If you're a regular reader you know I pay special attention to deceasedonline.com

that is rapidly adding cemetery and cremation records from the UK. Along with digitized newspapers, these records offer some of the greatest potential for making new genealogical discoveries.

Now deceased online has a blog designed to "explore the millions of records on the database taking a deeper look at the range of data available and demonstrating their uses and applications through historical and topical case histories."

Almost inevitably the first posting has an Olympics theme featuring Scottish Olympic heroes from 1908, competing for Great Britain, including one of the first ever Scottish winners of an Olympic gold medal.

Look of postings almost weekly at http://deceasedonlineblog.blogspot.com/

10 August 2012

TNA podcast: An impenetrable tangle or an under-used mine of information?’ The Court of Common Pleas and its records, c.1200-1875

According to this presentation by James Ross, recorded at The (UK) National Archives in June, the Court of Common Pleas was the busiest court in England for almost all of the medieval and early modern period, dealing with tens of thousands of civil cases a year at its height, and continued to be an important arena for litigants until the reorganization of the legal system in 1875.

Ross suggests these records contain more names of ordinary folks, except perhaps for the Hearth Tax records, than any other.

James Ross provides an introduction to the history of Common Pleas, its jurisdiction, and discusses ways into the numerous records of the court.


Selkirk Settlers

With the commemorations of the start of the War of 1812-14 another 200th Canadian anniversary has been rather overlooked. A new blog posting by Christine Woodcock, Selkirk Settlers Online Resources, summarizes where to find information about these Scottish settlers. It also gives a last opportunity to remind about the early bird registration for September's BIFHSGO Scottish-themed conference.

Also Scottish-themed is a long-awaited book Imperial Immigrants: Scottish Settlers in the Upper Ottawa Valley by St Mary's University history professor Michael Vance. From Dundurn Press it is to be released on August 20th. I hope to review on the blog soon.

That review will have to wait until after I complete the one for Lucille Campey's new Dundurn-published book Seeking a Better Future.

To bring this around full circle, Lucille was the author of the 2003 publication The Silver Chief: Lord Selkirk and the Scottish Pioneers of Belfast, Baldoon and Red River, the basis of one of her three presentations at the BIFHSGO conference.

More UK prisoner records at FMP

As announced by findmypast.co.uk:

You can now search records for 8,900 prisoners held captive on prison ships, or hulks, on findmypast.co.uk
Hulks were ships used as floating prisons – often these were ships that were no longer fit for battle but were still afloat.
This collection covers the period 1811-1843 and contains records for prisoners on the following hulks: Bellerophon, Euryalus, Hardy and Antelope, as well as a small number of records for Parkhurst prison.
The records hold fascinating details about the prisoners, including the crime they had committed, the sentence they received and the report from their gaoler.

09 August 2012

Getting started in family history: genetic genealogy

If you were told there was a book on your family history with specific information  not available anywhere else would you want to read it?

The DNA in each of trillions of cells in your body is a copy of that book. It's huge, something like 3.2 billion letters. Although much is not genealogically informative the part that is constitutes a text equivalent in length to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John combined.

A decade ago if someone suggested you start your family history research with DNA they'd be considered crazy. Today it may be the best starting point for some, especially adoptees without access to biological parent information. For the rest of us, we can still expected to find information from DNA not available from traditional genealogical sources.

A good source for information is the Frequently Asked Questions at Family Tree DNA. It's part of the learning centre resources at the FTDNA site, although some of that content is a bit dated.

Right up to date, to the extent that the last segment isn't even published, is a four part series DNA Testing for Genealogy – Getting Started by CeCe Moore (Your Genetic Genealogist) for Geni.com. Read parts one, two and three.

LAC employee recognized

LAC staffer Kevin Joynt was honoured at a ceremony on July 19 with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Kevin Joynt has been 23 years at Library and Archives Canada recently working on a special project, the World War II Killed in Action Digitization Project.  He regularly works outside of business hours to help Canadians discover their own personal family histories through genealogical searches.  http://www.gordonoconnor.ca/media_/news/minister-o-connor-presents-several-deserving-individuals-queen-s-diamond-jubilee-medals

His publications include Worthy investments : Canadians decorated by the King, 1915-1919Soldiers of The Crown : The Canadian Diamond Jubilee Contingent 1897 and ; Subchaser M.L.Q 072

Thanks to Ian White for the tip.

08 August 2012

RIP: Christopher T. Watts FSG

via the Rootsweb GENBRIT newsgroup and Else Churchill comes sad news of the death overnight Monday-Tuesday of widely respected British genealogist Chris Watts. Chris was a former chair of the Society of Genealogists, former employee of The National Archives and subsequently volunteer with their Friends organization. He was also author with his brother Michael of several monographs on genealogical topics.

Chris enjoyed genealogical travel. In June he was in Canada speaking at the OGS conference in Kingston, a city where his army ancestor had stayed briefly early in the 19th century, and spoke at BIFHSGO's 2008 annual conference.

He was also my DNA cousin. It is a bad week for death in my life.

BIFHSGO conference interview with Susan Davis

With the early bird BIFHSGO conference deadline this Friday, perhaps we can tempt you to register for the pre-conference session "Digital Descendents: where to find them and how to connect" by listening to my interview with the presenter, Susan Davis.

Essex Record Office blog

Gail Dever, the Quebec Family History Society webmaster, sent an email mentioning the Essex Record Office blog at http://www.essexrecordofficeblog.co.uk/

Gail writes "The blog posts are diverse and informative and always focused on Essex County and the activities of the record office’s archives. Recent posts feature photos, maps, and an Olympic connection. I thought their idea of linking a British medal-winning cyclist with their collection of old photos of bicycles was timely and brilliant. (Yes, I am trying to think of what we could do at QFHS that would be as interesting.) Some of my ancestors came from Essex and I am trying to learn as much as I can about the social history of the county where they lived. This blog is helping me do so. It also makes me aware of what their archives contain."

Take a look and you'll agree; the blog brings the ERO to life.

You can follow the blog postings on Facebook. Simply search for “The Essex Record Office.” http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Essex-Record-Office/102727403170725

06 August 2012

Poem: Genealogical Research

Thoughts after a visit to St. Peter's Church, Ellastone, Staffordshire on the 11th of September 1996.

We found one of the treasures
  of which we came to search
Half buried in the wild grass
  of this ancient country church.

The old gravestones, though weathered
  by sun and wind and rain,
retained for o'er two hundred years
  a deep-etched family name .....

My five-times great grandparents
  lay deep 'neath tangled weed;
I pondered what was left of them
  who'd blessed me with their seed.

Those roots of me compounded
   within the living sod .....
Those souls in some dimension
   in union with God .....

And what did I inherit
  of my values and beliefs
From the union of that man and wife
  with all their joys and griefs?

How many distant kinsfolk
  stem from every family line?
Perchance some friend or neighbour
  carried genes the same as mine.

But aren't we all inherent
  in this living universe
Which cast the seed of all of us
  the instant of its birth?

Written by Dorothy Reid who passed away peacefully on 6 August 2012.

Pharos Fall courses

Helen Osborn of Pharos Teaching and Tutoring sent a list of the courses being offered online for the three months starting in September. Pharos works in partnerships with the Society of Genealogists, the Guild of One-Name Studies, the (US) National Genealogical Society and the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives, so has some "street cred."

The courses starting in September are:

Organizing Your GenealogyResearching Your Welsh Ancestors
The National Archives Catalogue - Finding People
Introduction to One-Name Studies
Scottish Research Online

 Find the full information on these and other courses offered at http://pharostutors.com/

 "If you think education is costly, try ignorance"

Survivors' Tales of Famous Crimes

Eyes are aching through watching too much Olympic coverage, or too many Olympic commercials?
If so consider listening to Survivors' Tales of Famous Crimes an anthology, published in London in 1916, of some of the most sensational crimes and scandals of late 19th and early 20th century Britain. The editor Walter Wood interviews those who were touched by the crimes recounted.
I came across Librivox recordings of the chapters in this book as one relates to my home town. Another had as a victim a baby with one of the less common surnames I research.
The complete list of chapters is: The Moat Farm Murder; Henry Wainrights Crime; The Sham Baronet; The Penge Mystery; Kate Webster's Revenge; The Master Criminal; The Brighton Railway Murder; Palmer's Poisonings; The Southend Murder; The Reading Baby-Farmer; The Mystery of Yarmouth Beach; The Ardlamont Riddle; The Newcastle Train Murder; The Lamson Case; Crippens Callous Crime; Seddon's Greed of Gold; The Hooded Man; The Vauxhall Train Tragedy; The Tottenham Outrage.

Find them on iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/survivors-tales-famous-crimes/id417819484

Librivox has a huge catalogue to its recording of books in the public domain.
I found one with a particular connection to Ottawa Popular History of Ireland by Thomas D’Arcy McGee. http://librivox.org/popular-history-of-ireland-book-01-by-thomas-darcy-mcgee/

BIFHSGO conference early bird registration deadline looms

A reminder that Friday, 10 August, the deadline for early bird registration for the BIFHSGO 2012 conference, is fast approaching. You save $10 on an individual registration if you beat the deadline, either with an online registration or one mailed in with a postmark on or before the 10th.

05 August 2012

LAC Flickr sets

Responses have been received from 44 people to the poll question "Considering all activities Library and Archives Canada should undertake, what priority would you assign to posting sets of 10-100 themed images on Flickr?"

75% responded low or lowest priority. Another 20% answered average priority. LAC claims many things can't be done for lack of resources. Here's a basis on which to repriorize.

Celebrate Colonel By Day

Monday August 6th is the Ontario Civic Holiday, named for Colonel By in Ottawa to honour the man who founded Bytown and oversaw the construction of the Rideau Canal for the British Military.

Colonel By Day is a free, outdoor, one-day heritage-themed festival, presented by CHOO/COPO in partnership with the Bytown Museum. This family-oriented event runs from 11:00am to 4:00pm on the grounds around the Bytown Museum, close to the Entrance Locks of the Rideau Canal between Parliament Hill and the Chateau Laurier.

Local family history and heritage societies are well represented. It's a good opportunity to renew acquaintances and find out what's going on in the local community.

Quebec Family History Society on Facebook

On Friday in conversation with Susan Davis, BIFHSGO Director of Communications, recording an interview about her pre-conference session on Facebook, she mentioned how active the Quebec Family History Society is on Facebook.  Most of that part of the conversation didn't survive the editing process, but if you want to see what she was talking about go to http://www.facebook.com/groups/148789676376/
It's a closed group so while anyone can view the posts only QFHS registered members can post.
Congratulations to Gail Dever, QFHS webmaster and driving force behind the group.

04 August 2012

Genealogy podcasts

As with people, more genealogy and family history podcasts have come and gone than are alive today. Some only lasted a few episodes.

What is a podcast and what's the difference between a podcast and a webinar?

There isn't a lot. They're both multimedia presentations in the form of a series. Webinars are live online events, usually with the type of visual aid you find in a conference presentation. They provide for real-time audience input and feedback. Some podcasts also have a live feed although none of the family history ones. Webinars are often also available after the live event, although usually for a limited time whereas podcasts are usually archived and available indefinitely. Podcasts, at least the better ones, provide show notes which are like a presentation handout giving more detail, with links to online resources and other references.

The Genealogy Gems Podcast, produced by Lisa Louise Cook, started in March 2007 and appears roughly monthly. Lisa has found a happy niche in the podcast universe; many people have been helped and even inspired by her advice. While iTunes doesn't publish statistics on popularity Genealogy Gems is listed first when you search on iTunes for genealogy, likely meaning it's currently the most popular.
As well as the free podcast Lisa has a premium podcast. The cost is about $30 per year. Genealogy Gems serves to promote the premium one, and also advertises Lisa's many speaking engagements, books and instructional CDs.

There are 137 episodes in the series as of the one posted on July 22nd which was headlined Food and Family History and NetVibes update. On food Lisa spoke with Gina Philibert Ortega about her new book From The Family Kitchen: discover your food heritage and preserve favorite recipes. The item on NetVibes was advertising an enhancement to her premium podcast which provides a greater archive of episodes than previously available.

iTunes puts Genealogy Gems in the category of Kids and Family.

The Genealogy Guys Podcast is found in iTunes' Society and Culture category. Hosted by George Morgan and Drew Smith, it started in September 2005 and promotes George's initiative, Aha! seminars, as well as other sponsors and their conference appearances and books. George Morgan is the author of How to Do Everything Genealogy, which has received mostly five star reviews on Amazon. Drew Smith is author of Social Networking for Genealogists published in 2009.

Most episodes consist of news of the genealogy community, mainly US,  and e-mail segments where George and Drew respond to questions from listeners and provide advice. Episode 238 appeared on July 8th. What was, and still is, advertised as weekly is now appearing roughly monthly. The previous episodes were on May 26th, April 29th, and April 8th. Three episodes with a different format appeared between February 29th and March 24th were interviews recorded at Rootstech.

Both these podcasts are produced with largely a US audience in mind. While I listen to many of the episodes from both podcasts I usually wait until a long flight has to be endured and download unheard episodes to my iPhone.

Family Tree Magazine podcast is from the publishers of the US magazine by that name. It promises that "each month you'll hear from the editor for a sneak peek at what's coming up, news from the blogosphere, top tips from the current issue, the best of Family Tree Magazine and much more." The host is Lisa Louise Cook.

There are now 50 episodes online, typically 45 minutes each. Episode 49, the most recent  posted as I write, also includes a segment with Gina Philibert Ortega  on her book From The Family Kitchen.

Just as you'll probably hear the same news on the various TV networks so the same genealogy news tends to crop up on the various podcasts. Be selective.

If there are no similar podcasts covering a range of family history topics in Canada and the UK, unless I've overlooked them.

Library and Archives Canada has a podcast series, your history, your documentary heritage  (scroll down), which aims to "show custom treasures from our vaults, guide you through our many services and introduce you to the people who acquire, safeguard and make known Canada's documentary heritage."

The series started this February and so far there are just three episodes the most recent being "The Shamrock and the Fleur-de-Lys". The show notes are comprehensive including a transcript. Because they are specialized not all episodes will likely be of equal interest.

The UK National Archives offer podcasts which are mostly recordings of presentations given to an audience at Kew. Starting in September 2008 there are now 263 episodes covering a huge range of British historical and archival interest, many of which relate to family history. A typical episode might be 45 min.

The presentations are by highly knowledgeable people, but unfortunately the visual aids used are rarely available and the show notes are skimpy. Many of the episodes suffer from audio problems with speakers moving back and forth from the microphone. This doesn't seem so pronounced more recently. I rarely miss an episode that looks at all promising and make a habit of attending the presentations in person when at TNA.

Please add information in a comment if I've missed your favorite podcast or not done justice to one of those mentioned.

03 August 2012

Ancestry complete US 1940 census index?

Ancestry announce completion of their index to the 1940 US census. With 18 states completed on August 2nd all 50 states and the territories are now available.

According to the information at http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2442 " (The census) tallied the population of the country at 131,669,000 for the continental U.S. (this excludes both Hawaii and Alaska) and 150,621,231 for the U.S. and all territories and possessions except the Philippines.

Today's announcement at http://goo.gl/N7RJO is that "Our indexing came up with 134,395,545 people counted. Most reports on the 1940 census give the U.S. population as 132 million and change, so you may be wondering where the extra 2 million people came from. Two words: Puerto Rico. OK, and Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Panama Canal Zone. They were all included in the 1940 U.S. census and add another 2.1 million or so records to the final count."

I'm wondering about the difference between 150,621,231 and 134,395,545!

Some evaluation studies find the Ancestry indexing is not as accurate as that produced by the group headed by FamilySearch. While one swallow doesn't make a summer I successfully found my only known US relative, in New York, using the Ancestry index with the correct line nicely highlighted on the image of the original.

Family history tops Parkinson's disease risk factors

Did mom or dad have Parkinson's? According to a medical meta-analysis having a family history of PD is the most significant single risk indicator.

"People with a first-degree relative with PD had a more than threefold higher odds for developing PD themselves, compared with those without an affected first-degree relative, based on a meta-analysis of data from 26 case-control studies, and people with any relative with PD had a 4.5-fold greater odds, according to data collected in 19 case-control studies."
While 4.5-fold odds sounds like a lot on average only 1.6 out of 100
men of European ethnicity will develop Parkinson's Disease between the ages of 30 and 79. So if you have a family history of PD, indicative of a genetic factor, that's 7.2%, still significantly less than the average risk of developing prostate cancer, and about on a par with the average risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.

The study also found that a family history of tremour boosted the odds for development of PD 2.7-fold.

Many environmentally-related factors are identified in the report, including that current smokers had 56% lower odds of PD, compared with never-smokers. Coffee drinking was linked to a 33% drop in odds. Caffeine may also help reduce the severity of PD.

Alternatives to Microsoft Office

On my newest laptop I resisted the urge to purchase the Microsoft Office suite. Instead I've installed the free LibreOffice suite. So far on the few occasions I've needed it LibreOffice has done the job.

I still use the previous laptop, my workhorse computer with Office installed. for most of my business type work.

LibreOffice isn't the only option. There's a useful review of alternatives at 9 Of The Best Free & Low-Cost Alternatives To Microsoft Office.

Ontario Name Index (TONI) progress report

According to the Ontario Genealogical Society Ottawa Branch blog a record 65,417 entries were added to Ontario Name Index in July due to an increase in volunteers.
TONI now has 611,773 entries with the major addition in July of all of the cemetery transcripts for Prince Edward County.
Read more (More) at http://www.ogsottawa.blogspot.ca/2012/08/this-is-recent-report-from-toni-team-we.html

02 August 2012

CWGC: August newsletter

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is an example of an organization that knows how to maintain public support. Anyone who visits the cemeteries and monuments they maintain can see for themselves the dedication to doing the job.

The August issue of the CWGC newsletter, an example of the exemplary communication effort, augments the credibility by being open about recent problems caused by bad weather in France.

The Family History Show: Heraldry

The Family History Show is a series of videos presenting, in a highly digestible form, aspects of British family history. Some of the earlier episodes, especially episode four, could well be used in this month's Getting Started in Family History series. Others cover material which is rather more specialized.

Episode nine of the show, hosted by Nick Barrett and Laura Berry, has just been posted and comes from the College of Arms in London. The episode gives an introduction to heraldry and the genealogical resources of the College of Arms which go back hundreds of years.

The herald being interviewed used the term "prove" in relation to pedigrees, something they have been doing for centuries without benefit of the comparatively very recent genealogical proof standard.


01 August 2012

Getting started in family history: Cyndi's List

I was speaking to a neighbour the other day who knows I'm into family history, he even knows about this blog, but finds it too advanced. So this month the blog will include a few short posts on some of the resources old-timers take for granted. They are oldies but goodies -- resources we sometimes overlook as we get enchanted by the next new thing.

Cyndi's List
http://www.cyndislist.com/,with the tag line "Your genealogy starting point for more than 15 years!" is where to go when you find yourself researching an area or topic with which you're unfamiliar. With 189 categories, from Acadians to Writing Your Family History, and 319,675 links, if you can't find something to meet your needs it is indeed your unlucky day.

Cyndi's List also offers a way to keep up with new developments via daily lists of new and updated links at http://www.cyndislist.com/whatsnew/.

If you've just opened up a new family history website register it with Cyndi's List
to let the genealogical world know about it.

Benchmarks update for July

Here are some benchmarks for genealogy sites as of 31 July 2012. Comparable figures a month ago are shown in brackets. The higher the Alexa ranking the more popular the site.

Most sites have fallen in Alexa rank this month, the exceptions being findmypast.co.uk, british newspaperarchive.co.uk, and canadianheadstones.com.

Familysearch.org has 1,225 (1,211) record collections: census & lists 114 (111); birth, marriage, & death 775 (767); probate & court  96 (94); military 96 (96); migration & naturalization 57 (57); other  87 (86). It has Alexa rank 4.234 (4,227).

Ancestry.com has Alexa rank of 654 (616); ancestry.co.uk ranks 8,745 (7,955) and ancestry.ca ranks 28,428 (26,839). There are 30,753 (30,722) datasets in the collections including 1,932 (1,927) for Canada, 1,234 (1,228) for the UK and, 24,962 (24,944) for the USA.

Findmypast.co.uk has an Alexa rank of 25,228 (25,611). Findmypast.com ranks 203,920.

Family Tree DNA has 385,070 (380,972) records in its database. It ranks 37,563 (37,044) on Alexa.

Mocavo.com has rank 53,966 (49,121); GenealogyinTime.com ranks 32,493 (30,597).

Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk claims 5,467,345 (5,303,054) pages digitized. Alexa rank 134,871 (149,240).

Cyndislist.com claims 319.675 (318,866) total links in 189 (189) categories, with 3,294 (3,796) uncategorized. Alexa rank  92,450 (87,033).

FreeBMD has 218,542,758 (217,346,629) distinct records, Alexa rank 85,462 (78,361).

UKBMD provides 2,309 (2,243) links to web sites that offer on-line transcriptions of UK births, marriages, deaths and censuses. Alexa rank 259,611 (248,180).

CanadianHeadstones.com has over 446,000 (430,000) gravestone photo records from across Canada. It scores 464,817 (475,979) in Alexa traffic rank.

bifhsgo.ca ranks 954,738 (937,013), qfhs.ca ranks 3,720,520 (1,901,718), and ogs.on.ca ranks 269,311 (247,580).

And in case you're curious: Anglo-Celtic Connections has 3,789 (3,704) posts and continues to tumble in Alexa rank to 242,052 (204,179).

Did I miss something significant? If so please post a comment with statistics.