30 April 2013

LAC updates 1881 Census of Canada

Library and Archives Canada announces the release of a new version of the Census of Canada, 1881 database which incorporates suggestions for corrections that were received from users in recent months, as well as revised district and sub-district information.

Britain From Above

Britain From Above was mentioned on the blog in June last year. Being new it was swamped. It's worth taking another look at this English Heritage site with "more than 15,000 images from one of the earliest and most significant collections of aerial photography of the UK ... freely accessible online."

Thanks to Brenda Turner for the tip.


Don't Throw Out History!

Here's a slip I picked up at the OGS Region VIII meeting last Saturday from the display of the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Heritage Museum.

We all hear of valuable historical material consigned to the dump by those more interested in clearing a house or other building than anything else. But some archives are pressed for space and can't accept additional material, nor do they have the time to sort through reams of paper to find the historically valuable material.

What efforts are in place in your area to preserve its history at risk?

29 April 2013

Smiths Falls Hillcrest Cemetery Database

At the OGS Region VIII AGM on Saturday I learned from Shirley Sommerville of the Lanark Country Genealogical Society of a new volunteer-produced database, with 8,584 entries, for Hillcrest Cemetery in Smiths Falls. It's available at www.smithsfalls.ca/hillcrest-data.cfm. The flat file, with a search function, contains for each entry, where available: title, last name, first name, initial, part, section, suffix, plot, grave. A map of the cemetery is available online so you can zero in on the site.
Canadian Headstones.com has gravestone images for this cemetery with 12,061 entries.
Locate the cemetery on the map at http://goo.gl/maps/O8rHk

BIFHSGO Conference Interview With Shirley-Ann Pyrfinch

The latest interview with speakers at the BIFHSGO September conference, this with Shirley-Ann Pyefinch, Director of the Ottawa Family History Centre, is now posted on the Society website at www.bifhsgo.ca/cpage.php?pt=62

Before September Shirley-Ann will get lots of experience as she's speaking at five other events, one just past at Belleville. The others are:

- the OGS Ottawa Branch Genealogy Day on May 4th,
- an event at the Ottawa Family History Centre on the afternoon of May 11th
-  an event for the Ottawa Public Library in June, and
- in Brampton, Ontario, the One World-One Family event.  

Beechwood Cemetery Event: Exceptional Women of the War of 1812

The Friends of The Beechwood Cemetery Foundation will be hosting a free historical lecture on Exceptional Women of the War of 1812, given by lecturer, researcher and board member for the Goulbourn Museum, Kurt Johnson on Sunday, May 5, 2013. The event will take place in the Sacred Space at Beechwood, the National Cemetery of Canada, 280 Beechwood Ave. The talk will begin at 1:30pm, and will be followed by light refreshments. For more information, please call 613-741-9530 or email foundation@beechwoodcemetery.com.

via Glenn Wright

28 April 2013

Northern History and the Northern Scene

This is a shoutout for a series of posts and podcasts focused on northern history being published this week on the Active History website. It's in conjunction with the Northern Scene festival at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

Genetic Genealogy Satisfaction Survey

If you've had any experience with DNA testing for genetic genealogy please complete this three question survey. I'll keep it open for a few days. Please do give it some extra publicity on Twitter, FB and through your own connections. All being well results will be posted on Saturday.

Added note: If you don't see the dissatisfied options please scroll down to see the scroll bar which will reveal them to the right, or respond by clicking three question survey.

Happy 7th anniversary to 23andMe

A tip of the hat to pioneer DNA testing company 23andMe on their 7th anniversary. At the start the test cost about $1000, today it's $99 with twice the coverage.

Although originally focused in DNA and health they've paid increased attention to those of us who tested because of our genetic genealogy interest.

27 April 2013

Jim Heal RIP

Sad to report the passing on April 26 of James Albert (Jim) Heal. Jim was a founding member of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa, served on the Board of Directors and worked enthusiastically on program and membership responsibilities. He was a member of the Society Hall of Fame. The published obit is here.

Ancestry Updates Liverpool Parish Records Collection

Ancestry's Liverpool Church of England parish records collection, with links to 1.9 million original record images, now includes:
Baptisms, 1813-1906, 639,449 records from 92 churches including multiple churches in Bootle, Edge Hill, Everton, Liverpool, Toxteth Park,
Marriages and Banns, 1813-1921 with 660,517 records from 97 churches, no increase from the previous update.
Burials, 1813-1974, 422,862 records from 27 churches including 12 in Liverpool City and three in Toxteth Park.
Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1659-1812 now has 199,696 records from 14 churches, mainly from Liverpool City.
Don't forget that the earlier records include people of other faiths than C of E.

35 Days To Go

It's getting closer. Now just 35 days until the transfer of the 1921 census to the custody of Library and Archives Canada. How long will they keep it to themselves? Will there be a rush to index?

26 April 2013

Family Tree DNA Extends Sale

The DNA Day sale being offered by Family Tree DNA has been extended to April 30th.

Three Additional Trafford (Manchester) Cemeteries at Deceasedonline.com

Deceased Online announce the addition of nearly 120,000 burial records for the Manchester area cemeteries of Dunham Lawn, Sale (aka Sale Brooklands) and Urmston. 

The records comprise scans of burial registers, grave details and cemetery maps indicating section locations of graves.
Dunham Lawn Cemetery (Dunham Massey, Altrincham) has 4,342 burials recorded from July 1963 to September 1996.
Sale Cemetery (aka Sale Brooklands) records 38,586 burials from September 1862 to November 1999.
Urmston Cemetery includes 13,842 burials from November 1892 to November 1999.

Toronto Branch OGS : Summer Camp 2013

What to improve your Toronto research skills. Genealogy Summer Camp 2013 is right around the corner, June 16th to 21st.

"Genealogy "Summer Camp" is a unique program that brings out-of-town family historians to Toronto for an intensive week  of tutorials and hands-on research, with the guidance of local experts, at the many archives and reference libraries in Toronto. The groups are kept small to allow lots of help from local experts. The Summer Camp fee for 2013 is $240, which covers approximately 7 hours of lectures and tutorials, 25 hours of hands-on instruction and all worksheets
and handouts."
 For details on this, the 17th annual edition, go to Genealogy Summer Camp.

25 April 2013

Are LAC's Myth Busters Busted?

The LAC Myth Busters page is dated 2012-04-11 and continues to claim, for example, that "Staffing levels for librarians and archivists at LAC have remained stable over the last several years." With staff numbers having been reduced by 23% owing to modernization, transfers of responsibilities, budget cuts, and reclassifications away from these professional classifications, when will LAC issue an updated document, or will false statements continue to be displayed?

23andMe Survey

How well do we understand DNA? Here are extracts from a US survey conducted for 23andMe. Read the full press release at http://bit.ly/ZuHjX6

A new survey commissioned by 23andMe – the leading personal genetics company – in celebration of DNA Day reveals that the majority of Americans have an interest in learning more about themselves by exploring their DNA, even though many do not fully understand how their DNA functions.

While only two percent of the nation has already had a genetic test done according to the survey, 73 percent of those who have not yet been tested would like to do so in the future. And for many (71 percent), the opportunity to discover the health conditions for which they are genetically most at-risk is what would draw them to genetic testing. In fact, 56 percent said they would consider making lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, based on the results.

Although there is significant interest in learning more about genetic testing, most Americans do not understand the fundamentals of genetics and how DNA functions. More than 80 percent of Americans know that DNA is inherited from both of their parents, and 70 percent are aware that their DNA tells the body which physical traits to express, such as eye and hair color. Yet, half of women surveyed incorrectly believe that the female combination of chromosomes is XY, while almost 25 percent of men surveyed incorrectly believe that the male combination of chromosomes is XX, illustrating confusion around the basic genetics that determine an individual’s sex. In addition, 80 percent were unaware that all humans share 99.5 percent of their DNA. These findings underscore that while some people may generally understand how DNA influences their own identity, there tends to be far less understanding of how DNA functions and how all humans are connected by DNA.

"A majority of Americans is interested in the knowledge that their genetic information can provide,” said Joanna Mountain, PhD, senior director of research, 23andMe. “However, many are unfamiliar with the basics of genetic inheritance and unaware of what they might learn about themselves, in terms of health or ancestry, from their DNA. Our goal is to close the genetics literacy gap and help educate people about the basics of genetic inheritance, the information about ancestry stored in our DNA, the connections between DNA and health, and the potential benefits of genetic testing.”

Genetic testing can also help individuals uncover their ancestry composition and trace their family lineage. According to the survey, more than half of Americans know that people can discover living relatives they never knew existed through their DNA, and 53 percent understand that they can learn about the specific regions or countries where their ancestors originated from.

Regardless of why Americans are interested in digging deeply into their DNA, many would share the information in some way; in fact, 71 percent of Americans interested in having a genetic test said they would consider discussing the results with their doctor, while 57 percent said they would consider sharing results with their family members.

As individuals better understand their own DNA, they can also contribute directly to scientific discoveries. 23andMe not only provides individuals with access to their own genetic data, but also offers an opportunity to have their genetic data and responses to online surveys contribute to new scientific and medical discoveries. More than 65 percent of Americans who have not done a genetic test said that knowing that their genetic information could contribute to new discoveries that may lead to life-saving cures and treatments would make them more likely to get tested. Of 23andMe’s more than 250,000 genotyped customers, nearly 90 percent have opted to participate in the company’s research by answering online surveys. As a result, 23andMe has already identified hundreds of new genetic associations..

The survey was commissioned by 23andMe and conducted in March of 2013 by independent research firm, Kelton. The survey includes 1,067 respondents over the age of 18 among a stratified random sample representative of the United States population. The survey results have a margin of error of + or - 3 percent and a confidence level of 95 percent.


Surname Distribution in Britain

The Daily Mail has posted an interactive mapping facility showing  the distribution of the first, second and third most common surnames in England, Scotland and Wales from 2007 electoral rolls.

For the most common the dominance of Smith, in black letters for an English name, is the first thing you see. It extends well into the eastern part of southern Scotland. Jones dominates Wales, Welsh names are in light blue, but with Davies holding sway in the south west of the Principality. Jones makes a substantial incursion toward London, more evident when you zoom in. The Welsh name Williams is stronger in Cornwall and Devon, perhaps reflecting a common linguistic and cultural origin.
Macdonald and Campbell hold sway in western Scotland with Graham and Scott through Cumberland and down to north central England.

Take some time to look at a part of the country of interest to you in detail, and the second and third most common surnames. There's also a facility for looking at names on Twitter which I haven't had time to investigate.

Ontario Genealogical Society Annual Report for 2012

Congratulations to OGS for posting their annual report online (pdf) for all to see. As Canada's largest genealogical society they are showing the way, other societies can use it to benchmark their activities.

There's good news. OGS continues to enjoy the support of many volunteers who take on responsibilities large and small. While the Society could always use more the report is full of mention of volunteer activities.

The Society is adopting technology to cut costs and reach out to existing and new members. Operating expenses showed a decrease of 18.7% despite a 6.6% increase in office and administration expenses.

The President's report mentions that "OGS has strengthened its approach to advocacy. Together, we as a Society can continue to try to affect change. I have also made attempts to reach out to other heritage groups across the country so that we might speak together with one effective voice when issues arise." Details are not given.

The not so good news is that membership revenue continues to decline, this year by 3.7%.

Following the financial statements is a helpful simplified discussion of "Where Does the Money Go?" It shows that wages and rent account for almost all the membership fee of $60. All other costs are borne by sales, grants and draw-down of reserves account for the remainder  a total expenditure of $106 per member to keep the Society running.

24 April 2013

James Moore Wants To Close 395 Wellington

Here is a Tweet by Heritage Minister James Moore

James Moore@EmmMacfarlane Is why we're creating History Museum: access. The LAC main building is not designed or meant for public access. History is.
2013 Apr 24, 02:42

Replies to this Tweet

EmmMacfarlane@JamesMoore_org I look forward to seeing how it works out. Will be doing lots of research at the Archives this summer too.
4 hours ago

rowancaister@JamesMoore_org @emmmacfarlane Not meant for public access? LAC has a library users' video. Public Works lets you book exhibition spaces.
4 hours ago

deh_voh@JamesMoore_org @EmmMacfarlane The history of LAC shows was meant for public access & history for museum difficult to ascertain without
4 hours ago

marlawd@JamesMoore_org @emmmacfarlane LAC was once the "Public Archives of Canada." From it's beginnings it has been for public use! #cdnpoli
4 hours ago

ProfWalsh2003@JamesMoore_org @emmmacfarlane Sir, from LAC Act: "(b) to make that heritage known to Canadians ...and to facilitate access to it".
3 hours ago

Eversostupid@JamesMoore_org @EmmMacfarlane LAC not designed for public access? Freedom-of-information-hating Cons are tearing down LAC brick by brick.
2 hours ago

janeschmidt@JamesMoore_org @EmmMacfarlane 1/2 Physical access is one thing, slapdash/unfunded digital strategies are another. Not listening to ...
2 hours ago

janeschmidt@JamesMoore_org @EmmMacfarlane 2/2 concerns (nee outcry) of the professional library/archival community about direction of LAC is baffling.
2 hours ago

Rujiroj@JamesMoore_org @emmmacfarlane I'm a member of the public and use LAC all the time, sir! Why, I even have a library card with my name on it!
48 minutes ago


If you've walked the marble halls, and art festooned reading rooms at395 Wellington you wonder how such an ill informed comments could come to be made.
Contrast that with an LAC blog post, here, from last November:

"Another LAC building, located at 395 Wellington Street in downtown Ottawa, is a popular destination for researchers who come regularly to consult the archival and published collections."

Findmypast adds WW1 Swansea Pals Records

Records of early recruits to the 14th (Service) Battalion, The Welsh Regiment - known as the Swansea Pals are added to findmypast.co.uk.
Information includes:

- soldier number
- rank
- next of kin
- address of next of kin
These transcripts of the original documents held by West Glamorgan Archives were made by members of the Glamorgan Family History Society.

Ancestry Update to 1911 British Censuses

Ancestry has removed the privacy strip on the infirmity column on original census images for the 1911 censuses of England, Wales, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands.
There is also image enhancement with print names appearing alongside the name on the image and information popping up when you move the mouse over a field. That may not be new, I've seen it before on Ancestry's US censuses.

Also added are over 34 million Swedish church records, 1500-1941.

How We Celebrated St George's Day

English roast beef and English plum pudding were eaten. English traditions and institutions were eulogized. English songs were sung and English roses worn by the 200 or more Englishmen, members of the St George's Society who attended the 89th annual banquet of the Society in the Laurentian Club last night.
That was a century ago.
Coincidentally the Society president and toastmaster for the event was William Northwood, father of the architect mention to today's other blog post.
Read the extended article on the event from the Ottawa Citizen of 24 April 1913 here.

Winnipeg Architects

There's detail on Winnipeg architects, about 50 of them, and their work which I found while searching for something else. I was drawn there as Ottawa-born George Northwood, likely a very distant cousin, practiced in Winnipeg after being in partnership in his native Ottawa with prominent architect Werner Noffke in the early 20th century.
It's part of a new site http://www.winnipegarchitecture.ca/ mentioned as a news item on the Manitoba Historical Society website.
I got there while looking for confirmation of an archived item tweeted by Library and Archives Canada that on April 22, 1932 it rained geese in Elgin, Manitoba. The earliest reference was from 2002, and there are many websites that repeat the item. Surely if true for something so unusual there would be a contemporary news report! Nothing found!

23 April 2013

Canadian Week in Review

Ottawa-area blogger Elizabeth Lapointe, after a year of writing a weekly overview of new Canadian genealogical resources on her Genealogy Canada blog has decided to refreshed it. It continues to appear weekly with a new title "Canadian Week in Review" covering "websites, blogs, Facebook, and newspaper articles this past week that were of interest to me." It's in addition to her other posts on the site.
Congratulations are also due to Elizabeth for recognition of the blog as one of the best by the (US) Family Tree magazine.

Celebrate St George's Day

To all Englishmen and Englishwomen, Happy St George's Day



Weston & Lee

Some folks'll boast about their family trees,

And there's some trees they ought to lop;

But our family tree, believe me, goes right back,

You can see monkeys sitting on top!

To give you some idea of our family tree,

And don't think I'm boastin' nor braggin',

My great, great, great, great, great, great, great Uncle George,

Wor the Saint George who slaughtered the Dragon.

Read the whole masterpiece at http://monologues.co.uk/St_George_and_the_Dragon.htm


22 April 2013

Family Tree DNA Sale Extended

The deadline for placing orders for sale prices on tests at Family Tree DNA has been extended to 11:59 p.m. CDT on Thursday, April 25th which is DNA Day.

Jane's Walk in Ottawa

Mark your calendar for May 4-5, the dates for this year's Ottawa version of Jane's Walk, "free neighbourhood walking tours led by locals who care passionately about where they live, work and play. Jane's Walk is a pedestrian-focused event that improves urban literacy by offering insights into local history, planning, design, and civic engagement through the simple act of walking and observing."

Irish Roots: Graveyards worth whistling past

John Grenham's latest Irish Roots column in the Irish Times profiles three websites with graveyard surveys; irishgraveyards.ie, discovereverafter.com, and historicgraves.com.

History Repeating Family Tree Blog

History Repeating is a blog now in its sixth year of particular interest for genealogical and historical interests in Cambridgeshire, England and the surrounding area. There are also posts of broader interest. Recently there was an example of a genealogy infographic, prepared using the free tools online at http://www.easel.ly, that may provide a presentation attractive to the non-genealogist family member. Also, a perspective on something we all do, "getting something wrong is not something that we like to admit, but it’s probably one of the best things that you could do when researching your family tree."

21 April 2013

Two Favourite Canadian Websites for Genealogy

After the Ottawa Branch OGS meeting on Saturday two people back of locally prominent websites compared notes.
On the right is Al Lewis whose Bytown or Bust, more than 1500 pages on immigration and settlement in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec including the Cities of Ottawa and Hull / Gatineau 1600 to 2013, is a must for area researchers. There are posts at a rate of about one a day, not every day. With such a large collection using the search box to find the person or other subject of interest is the best way to go.
On the left is Cliff Seibel, a Board member at Canadianheadstones.com. Cliff, who has a particular interest in Russell county, took time out to come to the Computer Special Interest Group later in the afternoon. He is heavily involved in photographing headstones and adding them to the site. The photography, he said, is the easy part. In a row of uniformly spaces stones you can achieve a rate of one image per six seconds, being careful to avoid getting your shadow in the photo. Processing the photos and extracting the information for the index can take a couple of minutes or more depending on the complexity, especially if there are multiple names. He usually photographs during the summer and processes during the winter.
Both sites are free to  use. Ad support generates about enough revenue to cover site hosting costs.  .

FreeBMD April Update

The FreeBMD database was updated on Saturday 20 April 2013 to contain 228,234,652 distinct records.
Years with major updates (more than 5,000 records) since March are: for births 1943, 1958-1969; for marriages 1952, 1956, 1961-1969; for deaths 1964-1965, 1967-1969.

20 April 2013

Further Discounts from Family Tree DNA for DNA Day

Here's a full list of sale items during Family Tree DNA's promotion for DNA Day which ends at 11:59PM CDT on Monday April 22nd.

Full MtDNA Sequence…. $189
Upgrades to FMS….$129
Y-DNA37 (new and add-on)…. $119
Y-DNA67 (new and add-on)…. $199
Y-DNA37 + Full MtDNA Sequence…. $308
Y-DNA12 + FF…. $218
Y-DNA37 + FF…. $288
Y-DNA67 + FF…. $368
Family Finder.... $169
Family Finder + Full MtDNA Sequence…. $358
SuperDNA….$388 (Y-67 + FMS)
Comprehensive DNA…. $557 (Y-67 + FMS + FF)

All orders must be placed and paid for by the end of the sale to receive the promotional price. There will be no need for a coupon - all prices will be automatically adjusted on the website.  Order here.

At $169 Family Finder is competitively priced for Canadians genealogists, even compared to the $99 regular price for the similar test offered by 23andMe owing to that company's excessive shipping charge.

After The Cuts

On Friday afternoon at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the National Council on Public History in Ottawa there was a round table discussion "After the Cuts: The Future of History in Canada" by the presidents of Canadian heritage organizations for anthropology, archaeology, archives, and history.
They provided summaries of the impacts of federal budget cuts to Parks Canada, Library and Archives Canada and the Canadian Museum of Civilization (to become Canadian Museum of History), and on various federally funded programs.
All the organizations were/are conducting correspondence with the counterpart government department or agency and having, or attempting to have, meetings. It appears that government managers are not interested in serious engagement; the advice of these external profession organizations is not being heeded, but little advice is being heeded from internal sources as fewer and fewer disciplinary professionals are being employed by the departments.
The organizations represented are non-political. By their nature they are poorly equipped for rapid response. They will continue to provide advice, but in my view there can be little confidence this will have much impact - remember the truism about keeping on doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
These organizations will be providing input and support for reviews by arm's length panels, such as that of the Royal Society of Canada, underway to provide broadly based high-level advice with a time frame of 18 months or more to report. 

The situation is the result of the political philosophy of the Harper government and can only in the final analysis be addressed by political action -- left to individuals.

The proceeding were recorded and should eventually become available online.

Toronto Branch OGS April Meeting

Ruth Blair is the Toronto Branch featured speaker on the topic "A Brickwall Chisel - The Cluster Research Project" on Monday evening in the Burgundy Room, North York Memorial Community Hall, 5110 Yonge Street Toronto

Also on the agenda a mini-presentation by Elayne Lockhart, "My DNA - the Genealogical Gift that Keeps on Giving".

That's Monday, 22 April, 19:30 – 21:30. Details at: www.torontofamilyhistory.org/meetings.html 

Ontario Local and Family History at Canadiana.ca

Canadiana.org, which aims to preserve Canada's print history and make it accessible online, has posted a collection titled Ontario Local and Family History.  It provides and enhances access to materials that "chronicle the rich historical texture of settlement, industry, culture and local government in Upper Canada and early Ontario."
There's a blog post at http://www.canadiana.ca/en/ON-local-history which gives an overview of the 688 documents - anything in the whole collection with Ontario as a subject term. You can browse all titles and in many cases read a preview of the document, or search the digitized text.
It's a diverse grouping, voters lists, government reports, atlases and directories, recollections of settler's experiences, sermons and speeches, literature, copies of periodicals including The Canadian Illustrated News and, for those with Barnardo home child interest, a few copies of Ups and Downs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and more.
An individual annual subscription to Canadiana.ca is $100. A few public libraries and universities are subscribers and it can be accessed for free on site at Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa.

19 April 2013

East End Poor Law Removal and Settlement Records New at Ancestry

Selected Poor Law Removal and Settlement Records, 1828-1930, comprises 218,139 records from the unions of London's East End. The coverage is sporadic:

Bethnal Green: Orders of Removal for 1837-1853, 1855-1865; Settlement Papers for 1889-1894.
Hackney:  Orders of Removal for 1867-1868, 1900, 1903-1907, 1913-1914, 1920-1921; Settlement Papers 1850-1870, 1892-1915.
Poplar: Orders of Removal for 1874-1892; Settlement Papers
Shoreditch: 1885-1886, 1889-1890, 1893-1894, 1904; Settlement Papers 1874-1892.
Stepney: Orders of Removal for 1826-1836; no Settlement Papers

These records are digitized from originals at the London Metropolitan Archives. Advice from Ancestry is:

"Details included in these records vary widely, depending on the document. An order of removal may contain a name, age, current parish, and parish being removed to. A settlement register may note number of children and marital status. Documents from inquiries and examinations can be even more extensive. In the end, you may be able to uncover some of the following information: name; age; parish; date; places and dates of residence (both current and former); spouse and marriage details; children’s names, birth dates, and birthplace; profession; other family members’ names and residences; summary of the situation and grounds for settlement or removal.
Some of the cases include multiple documents, so be sure to use the arrow keys to browse surrounding pages to make sure you find all the records for your ancestor."

18 April 2013

Family Tree DNA Offers DNA Day Special

Bennett Greenspan, President of Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) announces that in celebration of DNA Day and the move of their full sequence mitochondrial scan to Next Generation Sequencing, FTDNA is offering their lowest price ever for upgrades to mtDNA Full Sequences.

For a limited time, previous tests of HVR1 or HVR1+2 will be eligible to upgrade to the Full Sequence for $129.

Tests of the Full Mitochondrial Sequence, with no previous mitochondrial test, are $189

With the new technology the timeframe for results to be completed should now normally be within 5-6 weeks, weeks shorter than previously depending on volume.

1921 Census of Canada News: One Step Closer

Approaching June 2, and the official transfer of custody of the 1921 census of Canada to Library and Archives Canada, we're all anxiously awaiting news of how and when it will be made publicly available.
A reliable LAC source informs me that "the 1921 census was microfilmed and later digitized as part of various research projects. This entails that the digitization portion of releasing the 1921 census over the Internet is already done."
While delay in geographical indexing and mounting on the LAC website may still occur having digitization already done means prospects for early access are now much improved. Once it's available there should be no impediment to organizations of all types undertaking name indexing.

Kingston Branch OGS April Meeting

On Saturday 20 April at 10 am Kingston Branch OGS will meet when the speaker will be Joanne Stanbridge on "The Fair Fugitive: Harriet Powel's Life and Legacy." The venue is the Wilson Room, Kingston Frontenac Public Library, 130 Johnson St. in Kingston.

17 April 2013

Ancestry Adds London, England, Overseer Returns, 1863-1894

The 294,388 records in this collection from the London Metropolitan Archives are described as overseer returns. In a British genealogical context we usually think of an overseer as an official who administered poor relief - Overseer of the Poor.
In this case it's overseers’ returns of electors, listing people who have claimed the right to vote in a parish.
The returns, for about 160 parishes, are bare bones: name, address. The printed documents, with annotations, are arranged alphabetically by name (last, first) in annual bundles by polling district and only list those, men, claiming the right to vote in this period before universal suffrage.
Checking on people I know to have been in London the collection, as name indexed, is incomplete. If an ancestor is included you may well find residence between censuses.

Deceasedonline.com add Greater Manchester (Trafford) Records

Burial and cremation records for Trafford Council's Hale (aka Altrincham) Cemetery, opened in December 1894, and Stretford Cemetery, opened in February 1885, are now available at www.deceasedonline.com
The records comprise scans of burial registers, grave details and cemetery maps indicating section locations of graves. There are 24,056 burials for Hale Cemetery and 34,108 burials recorded for Stretford Cemetery, both up to 1999.
Records for the remaining three cemeteries and Altrincham Crematorium in Trafford will be available on Deceased Online over the next few weeks.
Trafford, the second council area within Greater Manchester to place records with Deceased Online, bordered by Salford to the north and west, Manchester City to the east, Warrington the southwest and Cheshire East to the south is home to the Manchester United football club.

Growth and Competition in Autosomal Genetic Genealogy

Family Tree DNA opened their autosomal DNA test (Family Finder) service to all in May 2010, preceded by a trial period with existing customers. Based on the matches with my DNA the clientele grew by 33% from 2010 to 2011, and 50% the following year.
Now, in the first three months of 2013, the growth is just 25% over the same period in 2012. This is based on my small sample.
This likely reflects the price differential.
23andMe reduced their price last December, from $299 to $99 for what is arguably a superior product in several respects.
There's new competition from AncestryDNA, also now priced at $99.
Meanwhile FTDNA has maintained a regular price of $289, unchanged from when the service launched in 2010. Even the sale price of late last year is now significantly above the competition.

Ottawa Branch OGS April Meeting

Next Saturday, 20 April will be a busy one at the Ottawa City Archives, 100 Tallwood Drive, off Woodroffe Avenue.

The Scottish interest group meeting gets underway at 10 am in Room 226 with a silent auction of Scottish and some other books.

At 1 pm folks begin to gather on the ground floor for the 1:30 start of proceedings for the Ottawa Branch OGS monthly meeting featuring a presentation Clara's Rib by Anne Raina.

Clara's Rib is the true story of a young girl growing up in a tuberculosis hospital.  Clara entered the Royal Ottawa Sanatorium in 1939 when she was 12 and was discharged for the final time in 1952, just after turning 26 years of age.  Anne will also talk about how she came to an understanding of this disease that ravaged her family.
More about the presentation, and how members can attend remotely, at  http://ogsottawa.on.ca/

Immediately following, nominally at 3:15 pm, there's a meeting of the Computer Special Interest Group.

16 April 2013

Major Update to FamilySearch.org

It's been no secret that FamilySearch, the family history arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ranked 4,349 among all website on Alexa, was imminently going to roll out an upgrade to the site. It's here and as the second ranked family history site, below ancestry.com, above myheritage.com, this is major.

The announcement of the update points out "significant new enhancements to its web services that allow visitors to collaboratively build their family tree online, preserve and share precious family photos and stories, and receive personal research assistance-all for free."

It couldn't be clearer where the emphasis is being placed:

The update "seeks to broaden family history’s appeal to those who don’t consider themselves researchers or genealogists, especially youth who are masters of digital realms such as social media." 

It's simple to enter your data on people in your family tree, add photographs and stories and receive hints to filling in the gaps. You can display in various formats and, as promoting collaboration is a major objective, sharing via links to major social networks.

Although its not as prominent as previously you can still find the information the LDS have recorded in the field, and surface abstracted and indexed data digitized by tens if not hundreds of thousands of volunteers; and that continues to grow. Clicking on Family Records then Start Searching brings you to:

an updated version of a page familiar to regular users. Scrolling down the page brings you to a place to browse and select from the various collections and search that specific collection, such as a particular census where indexed. 

The ribbon at the top gives access to user submitted genealogies, such as the Ancestral File and the Pedigree Resource File; the FamilySearch (previously Family History Library) Catalog and; a collection of more than 40,000 digitized genealogy and family history publications.

From the home page also gives access to the volunteer indexing projects.

I found the change quite easy to navigate but didn't delve into the social side. Maybe later!

Young Seamen Found in Aberystwyth Shipping Records?

The National Library of Wales has made available Aberystwyth Shipping Records containing crew accounts and agreements (generally known as crew lists) and logbooks, together with associated papers and correspondence, 1856-1914, for 544 merchant vessels registered at the port of Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire.
There's a blog post from the NLW about the records with information that:

Whilst children from the age of 12 onwards are often listed as crew members, Evan Davies, 9 years old, from Llansanffraid, Cardiganshire, included in 1857 as a crew member on board the vessel Ellen (‘this being his first ship’), is surely the youngest crew member listed among the records.
By coincidence this came to me on the same day as as an email from findmy past.co.uk about the company collection of merchant mariner records containing a record for 13 year-old deck boy Eric Abbott, and asking – could he be the youngest ever Merchant Navy Seaman?

Reading the NLW blog from Ottawa one can't help but reflect on how dynamic the organization seems compared to LAC, witness the most recent items of LAC News:

Major interruption of LAC computing services April 20, 2013
Launch of an improved order form for reproductions
Interruption of LAC Reproductions Services April 13, 2013

Irish Anglican Record Project

Registers of baptism, marriage and burial from a few Church of Ireland parishes are now available as transcriptions for free. They are:

Delgany (Glendalough) – Records 1666– 900

Bunclody (Newtownbarry) Union (Ferns), comprising the four churches of Bunclody/Newtownbarry, Kilrush, Kidavin/Barragh and Clonegal/Moyacombe.

Templeshanbo (Ferns) – Marriages 1800–1814

Fermoy Garrison church (Cloyne) – Baptisms 1920–22

St Peter’s Church, Kilgarvan (Ardfert & Aghadoe) – Baptisms 1811–50; Marriages 1812–1947; Burials 1819–50, 1878–1960

Background to this project, including information on other transcriptions not online, is at http://ireland.anglican.org/about/153

Thanks to Anne Sterling for the tip.

15 April 2013

TNA Podcast: Hearth Tax

This talk given on March 21st by Paul Carlyle, a member of TNA's Medieval and Early Modern Team, is billed as an introduction. It covers most things a family historian looking to make informed use of the hearth tax records from the latter half of the 17th century would want to know.

BCGS 2013 Seminar Features Wright and Anderson

Following their appearance at what is shaping up to be a sold-out event in Courtney, BC, next Saturday Glenn Wright & Lesley Ancestry Anderson will be wending their way, via Campbell River on Tuesday evening, Nanaimo and a research stop in Victoria, to Burnaby the following Saturday 27 April.
The event, organized by the British Columbia Genealogical Society, will see historian and former military archivist Glenn Wright presenting:
The British Army in Canada 1750-1871
Canadians at War - 1885 Rebellion, South African 1899-1902, First & Second World Wars
Glenn and Lesley will be teaming up for a presentation on:
Pre 1865 Immigration
Lesley's solo contribution is:
What’s new at Ancestry?
Glenn tells me it's some years since he's been to BC so don't miss the opportunity to benefit from his experience, and Lesley's insider knowledge of Ancestry. There's more information at http://www.bcgs.ca/?page_id=2511

UPDATE: To Anonymous who suggests in a comment that Anderson and Wright sounds better than Wright and Anderson in the title; yes, it is the more conventional alphabetical order. In this case in Burnaby, Wright is giving two talks, Anderson one, and one is co-presented. Those of us with surnames toward the end of the alphabet get accustomed to second billing, but why should we forever be subject to alphabetic discrimination?

Lucille Campey Tackles Irish Emigration to Canada

A note from Geoff Campey informs that Lucille Campey has recently signed a contract with Dundurn Press of Toronto to write three books on Irish emigration to Canada. The scope will be similar to her three books on English emigration; the first dealing with Atlantic Canada, the second covering Ontario and Quebec and the final book dealing with emigration to the Prairies and B.C. while also considering the overall story of Irish emigration. The books are scheduled to be published in 2016, 2018 and 2020 respectively.

Lucille is currently writing her third book in the English series: Ignored but not forgotten: Canada's English Immigrants scheduled to be published in August, 2014, also by Dundurn.

MAPCO Update

Stimulated by Saturday's BIFHSGO presentation I went to revisit MAPCO, an Australian site that includes digitized old maps. Last month saw the addition of a new map after a year-long hiatus, a Map of Ireland 1838 described as a highly detailed, high resolution scan. Topographic shading conveys a vivid picture of the terrain.
If you haven't visited MAPCO check it out, especially for the 73 high quality London maps and views from the 2nd to the early 20th century and the featured 1868 map by Edward Weller at nearly 10 inches to the mile.

Perth Historical Society Meeting: April 17, 2013

Our Historic Mills: An Illustrated Tour of the Mills & Sites of the Area, is the topic for the April 17 meeting of the Perth Historical Society, a photographic tour of the area historic mills and former mill sites, touching on many sites not generally known to the public.

"The opening of Lanark County in the early 1800s triggered the construction of dozens of mills throughout the settled area, harnessing the water power of our local streams. A recent paper lists over 40 area mill sites along the Tay, Fall, Clyde and Mississippi Rivers. The mills sawed lumber and shingles, de-barked logs, ground grain and minerals, carded and spun wool, and, later, even produced power, for the newly-electrified Town of Perth. Interwoven with many of the early mills are the names of prominent area families – Thom, Haggart, Caldwell, Ritchey, Adams, and Playfair, amongst others.

Although some mills operated into the mid-1900s, most had long since disappeared. However, several are still with us, maintained as reminders of the proud tradition, as the Code Mill in Perth - or standing as ghostly ruins - the Ritchie Mill of Tay Valley Township. The remnants of others may still be found along the edge of streams, such as in early, industrialised Port Elmsley, where they are gradually giving up their secrets and stories to local researchers.

This illustrated session will present these area mills and mill sites, some of their little-known stories and the local personalities who owned them. The presentation will be based on both early and present-day photos of the mills and sites, including some details of those mills still standing, thanks to the Lanark County Camera Club.

Presenter, David Taylor of Glen Tay, has been documenting area mills since 2005, when a list of candidate mills was required for a photo-shoot by the Lanark Camera Club. His interest arises from a combination of career in the wood products industry and a six-decades passion for history and the genealogies of several area families. He is a member of the Perth Historical Society Committee and Tay Valley Township’s 200 Anniversary Working Group.

This evening will be capped with an Internet presentation on the new interactive digital map that Tay Valley Township has produced to display, and guide visitors to, the township’s historical and cultural sites http://tayvalleytwp.ca/interactive-map/."

The meeting are open to the public at 7:30 pm at the Perth Museum, at 11 Gore Street E. in Perth. (“Toonie Fee”). For further information, call Ellen Dean (613-264 8362) or David Taylor (613-264 0094).

14 April 2013

WDYTYA? Live Speaker Handouts

The Society of Genealogists has posted a selection of handouts prepared by speakers at February's Who Do Think You Are? Live. There are 18 of them available as PDFs, some images of slides, some resource lists.

The resource list handout Glenn Wright and I prepared to support our presentation Researching English Emigrants to Canada and their Descendants is not included, it was previously posted here.

Stephen Fry on Language

Does anyone know of an example of the use of kinetic typography in a family history context?

James F S Thomson on Maps

Saturday's BIFHSGO meeting saw another large attendance, despite the weather, to hear Darryl Kennedy on Heraldry as a warm up to James F S Thomson.
Courtesy of via Rail, he had made it through an April storm to present Maps and Mapping for the Twenty-First Century Genealogist, a condensed version of an eight-hour course previously given for the Toronto Branch of OGS.
There was a lot crammed into a one hour presentation with significant sections dedicated to Scottish and Irish map resources. Those are of less interest for my own family history, which is just as well as the information came rather fast.
For England he highlighted the English Jurisdictions 1851 maps from Family Search, and a subscription only website London Low Life described as "an extraordinary digital collection bringing to life the teeming streets of Victorian London, and inviting students and scholars to explore the gin palaces, brothels and East End slums of the nineteenth century’s greatest city." It may be available through community access from a local university. James also kindly mentioned my own Google Map with London cemetery pins.
A PDF handout with links for the presentation resources will be placed in the member only section of the Society website.

QFHS: Celebrating Our English Roots Day

Here's an announcement from the Quebec Family History Society.

Wednesday, April 17
Celebrating Our English Roots Day
1:30 pm to 4:00 pm - QFHS Heritage Centre and Library, 173 Cartier Avenue, Pointe-Claire.
Join us for this month's "Celebrating Our Roots Days," our theme is England! Drop by anytime during the afternoon for a cuppa tea, coffee, sweets and a "chin wag" about England and our ancestors who came from there.

Come browse the display of books from our English collection. If you are new to genealogy, talk to our members about how to start researching your family history.

Bring a coffee mug, a friend, your own favourite books and resources on Ireland that have helped you in your research, or just bring yourself.

Open to our members and the public. Admission is free.  Dress informal. 
Visit  http://www.qfhs.ca/events.php

13 April 2013

Imperial War Museums Media

There's historic media available online from the UK Imperial War Museums site at http://www.iwm.org.uk/. Search the collection at www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search then filter the results by media to find images, audio and video. Video includes silent films from WW1 and WW2 propaganda. A search for Canada found many items.

Alberta Genealogical Society Conference 2013

Albertans, it's not too late. Dave Obee's session on Sunday, F-1,Volhynia? Galicia?, is now full but there are lots of other presentations to enjoy at the Alberta Genealogical Society 2013 Conference, April 19th (pre-registration/research), 20th & 21st (Conference), which marks the 40th Anniversary of the Society.
Check out the program for yourself at http://abgensoc.ca , see updates at http://agsconference2013.blogspot.ca or email Shannon & Shirley agsconference2013@shaw.ca.
Albertans have a reputation for knowing how to have a good time, so saddle up and head for an informative and enjoyable time at The Chateau Louis Conference Centre in Edmonton.

12 April 2013

Additional Kent Parish Records at FindMyPast

Added to the Kent parish records mentioned here previously, 600,000 records from 1538-2006.

Baptisms: 498,176 records from about 100 parishes (PDF)
Banns: 10,121 records from nearly 50 parishes (PDF)
Marriages: 172,371 records from nearly 130 parishes (PDF)
Burials: 354,749 records from about 90 parishes (PDF)

Failure to Disclose at LAC

The Bibliocracy blog outs Library and Archives Canada with a revelation that within LAC "all of the management positions described in the “Statement of Merit” used to be classified as “LS” (Library Science); they are now, as the document shows, classified as “EC” (Economics and Social Science)."

Bibliocracy reports that those reclassifications in early 2012 should have been reported on the LAC website. They were and are not. 

Could it be LAC management wants to hide that they no longer require library qualifications for those managing library activities? Perhaps the Librarian and Archivist, an economist by training, sees it as more important to have people who speak his disciplinary language than to have managers who know much about their area of responsibility.

Read the Bibliocracy item at http://goo.gl/tIzkF

Cousins, Surprise?

Ancestry.ca has revealed that Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair are cousins. Read all about it in this article at Global Genealogy. They are ninth cousins which means they have a pair of eight times great-grandparents in common.
We all have 1024 eight times great-grandparents. If each of those couples had three children, who each lived to have three children, and so on to the present generation, then each of the original 512 couples would have 19,683 eighth great-grandchildren. That's a total of over 10 million ninth cousins.
Not all families were that large. Pierre Trudeau was one of three siblings and had three sons, and a daughter out of wedlock. Many Quebec families were larger. Thomas Mulcair came from a family of ten children.
With four children at each generation there would be more than one hundred and thirty million ninth cousins.
Compare that to the current Quebec population of eight million.
A few smaller families,deaths, migration and cousin marriages accounts for the discrepancy. I'd be surprised if Trudeau and Mulcair were not more closely related than ninth cousin through lines not yet explored. If you know of a closer connection please post a comment.

50 Days To Go

Yes, day 50 in the countdown to the day when custody of the 1921 Canadian census passes from Statistics Canada to Library and Archives Canada.

11 April 2013

Obfuscation From LAC

The Canadian Library Association (CLA) is losing patience with Library and Archives Canada management:

"CLA has been genuinely striving to engage with LAC management, to understand the changes taking place at the institution, and to provide constructive feedback on behalf of our members, through both direct communication and participation in the Pan-Canadian Documentary Heritage Network and its affiliated Round Table groups. We are discouraged that our attempts have been repeatedly met with ambiguous responses and a lack of clear direction, rather than specific, concrete answers to specific questions."
That's an extract from the latest letter from the CLA in an exchange available from their advocacy page. CLA seems now to be getting the message the archivists got last year which resulted in them withdrawing from the sham of a consultation network.

More Free National Library Week Resources

ProQuest-National Library Week 2013 Databases

Free Access To the Following Resources:

National Library Week

To celebrate National Library Week next week (April 14-20) Oxford University Press is offering free online access to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and Oxford Reference in North and South America.

Free access will be through a username and password announced on the OUPblog on 14 April. Everyone will have access through the same login, which will last until the end of the week.

via Infodocket

BIFHSGO April Meeting

Saturday, April 13, 2013
9:00-9:30 Before BIFHSGO Educational Talk
How you doing Harold? Conceptions and Misconceptions of Heraldry for Genealogists by Darrel Kennedy
9:15-10:00 am Discovery Tables - Discover Your Library with Marlene Lascelle
10:00-11:30 Monthly Meeting Speaker
Maps and Mapping for the Twenty-First Century Genealogist
by James F.S. Thomson
Genealogists know that maps can contribute to family history research, analysis and writing in different and important ways. The current generation of genealogists, however, has no need to feel limited to availing themselves of static maps created by others. There are exciting developments for us on two fronts. Remarkable new online sites demonstrate or permit the integration of maps and other data, and even quite simple mapping and other tools enable the user to create unique maps and plans, tailored to the needs of the compiler and incorporating data derived from different sources. In this presentation, James will visit some of these sites, and show how such tools can be used creatively and effectively in genealogical projects. A Q&A with James tells us how maps have enhanced his family story.
About the Speaker
James F.S. Thomson has designed and taught over a dozen very popular advanced and expert-level family history courses co-sponsored by Toronto Branch OGS and the Toronto Public Library. For these courses and in his articles and presentations at conferences and workshops, as well as in his capacity as a University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies instructor, James draws on over thirty years of experience of family and local history research.
Location: Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Come early and browse our Discovery Tables. Meet with family history experts. Free parking is available in the lots east of the building only on Saturdays. Do not use the lot west of the building.

10 April 2013

Diefenbunker Exhibit Launch

Voices of our Past: Top Secret Stories from the Employees of CFS Carp is a new exhibit running from April 11to June 11.
It features oral histories of employees who worked at the Diefenbunker during its 33 year operation. This interactive exhibition features interviews and stories on daily life in the Diefenbunker, the former Canadian Forces Station Carp, and the atmosphere of the Cold War Era, but will also showcase special digital artifacts, including photos of the interviewees, period images of the Bunker and objects from our collection, which will truly serve to complete the story of the Diefenbunker.
There is a launch event on Thursday, April 11, 2013, 7PM to 9PM at the Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War Museum. There is no cost but RSVP to Heather Montgomery at 613-839-0007 or email education@diefenbunker.ca.

Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes for Belleville ON

At the website for the Belleville Public Library now find lists of Births 1848-1899, Marriages 1895-2012 and Deaths 1848-2012 indexed from the Belleville Intelligencer. Don't forget you can search each list using CNTL-F, CMD-F for Mac.
This online facility is made possible by cooperation of the Library and Belleville Community Archives with provincial funding.
via a tweet by Ken McKinlay

09 April 2013


With online services it doesn't matter if the company is on the other side of the world, the service is identical.  That's true of a new initiative at www.gen-ebooks.com/.

To kick off the service they are offering free the Australian Handbook 1900 covering the whole Australian region with histories and maps of each colony as seen from the perspective of 1900, extensive almanac-type details, timetables, statistics etc.. There are a handful of other ebooks a mix of the Australia-focused and guides for family history research in Germany, Ireland and Scotland from their Unlock the Past partner. Be aware that prices are quoted in dollars and the Australian dollar is worth a bit more than the Canadian.

The service is a division of Gould Genealogy & History, which was established in Australia in 1976, and among many other initiatives, through Archive Digital Books Australasia, is a partner in the international Archive CD Books initiative. This venture into ebooks is another example of the company adapting to changing times. 

More eBooks Coming to Canadian Public Libraries

Do you have an eReader? Increasingly I see people using eReaders on a bus or aircraft where they would previously have been reading a paperback.
However, at present the selection of eBooks available through Canadian public libraries has been quite limited, and the download procedure through the Overdrive system a klutzy multi-stage process.

Canadian public libraries, and their patrons are frustrated by the lack of flexibility in the present system. Why can't downloading an eBook from the library be as easy as finding it in the catalog and clicking a button, as easy as purchasing an eBook for the Kindle?

Canadian publishers have a large backlist of books already in eFormat but not made available through the existing system. Whether backlist or new, Canadian titles are not a priority for the US-based Overdrive. So Canadian libraries, and patrons, suffer from lack of access.

Now Canadian public libraries and publishers are working together to change that in an initiative to reach the pilot project stage later this year, likely starting this fall, in Hamilton, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.

There's a good 42 minute video of a conference presentation The State of E-Lending in Canada for those who want to dig in more deeply.

08 April 2013

Service at LAC

On Saturday afternoon, during his presentation on home children research at the Ottawa Public Library downtown, BIFHSGO Hall of Fame member John Sayers commented on some problems that have developed in recent years for researchers at Library and Archives Canada.
His greatest concern was lack of maintenance of many of the microfilm readers, those without a digital interface. Either the focus is not right, or the carriages are ceased, or they won't operate at all. There used to be a maintenance contract with work at least three times a week, probably every day. The last two years there's no such maintenance apparent.
The new machines are very good, but the staff encourage that they only be used by people using a memory stick. If you want a hard copy they point you to the older machines which provide very poor image copies.  Although you can access microfilms at any time you can't make a copy in the unstaffed hours. They seem to be discouraging people who don't have a memory stick, or don't use computers from being users.
Hours of access in the genealogy section have been decreased; they now open at 10 am rather than 9 am and close at 3 pm rather than 4 pm. It used to be you could print from the computers in the 3rd floor genealogy area at any time of the day or night. That had to be curtailed as it was being abused so now you can only make copies for those 5 hours a day. Further, you can only access the FindMyPast database during those hours as access times out after a period of inactivity and can only be reactivated by a staff member.
Every microfilm in the public access cabinets that has a green dot on the box is supposed to have been digitized. For ships passenger lists there are many for the 1920s that are not viewable online even though the green dot on the case suggests they should be.
Specifically for home children there are many significant files not digitized. A large collection of correspondence  has not been digitized and LAC asks that they not be indexed until they have been -- who knows when that will be! Information relating to the magazine of the Barnardos organization in Toronto, called Ups and Downs, Middlemore Homes, Fagen, Chorlton and Leeds groups are all with LAC
Overall John Sayers comments that he still enjoys working at LAC, especially because of the front-line people who do their best under the circumstances. The situation with the poorly or unmaintained machines is the most aggravating aspect.

Historical Maps of Toronto

Simple and free access to a selection of Historical Maps of Toronto has recently become available. They date from 1787 to 1902 with links to others. I suggest starting at this ActiveHistory blog post.

TNA Completes Digitization of WW1 War Diaries

WW1 War Diaries kept at various organizational levels are useful to paint the larger picture of a soldier's war. The UK diaries have been the subject of a TNA digitization project, funded from the surplus from commercial cooperative projects, not itself attractive enough to find a commercial partner. The diaries are not yet online.
Here's TNA's announcement:

For the past few months we have been digitising part of the WO 95 record series, which consists of unit war diaries from the First World War. The series is one of the most requested in our reading rooms in Kew, and digitising these diaries will enable us to publish them online, making them more accessible for the First World War centenary.

Digitisation has now been completed and all diaries from the WO 95 series are now back in circulation. The digitised diaries will be launched online as soon as it is feasible before the centenary period begins, but at present we are unable to provide specific details - please keep watching our website for updates.

This is one of the rare occasions where LAC has been ahead, almost a decade ahead, with the CEF diaries available at www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/archivianet/02015_e.html

Hurry, Hurry, Hurry ... Price Increase Coming at Deceased Online

Get in under the wire finding ancestor burials before price increases coming to Deceased Online on 22 April. Take advantage to check, especially for any East End London ancestors who might have been buried at Manor Park, recently added.
The new price schedule, which sees increases for viewing register page scans and computerised register records is here. There are also price reductions for bulk credit purchases.
The most recent additions at Deceased Online, for St Paul's Church, St Paul's Square, Bedford, are all digital scans of registers dating from 1567 to 1855, with a few 20th century burials. There are nearly 14,500 entries, but this collection lacks grave details or cemetery maps.
Look for data from Brompton Cemetery, near Earl's Court, one of the Magnificant Seven London cemeteries, to be coming available soon on the site.

Comparing LAC and TNA as Places To Work

Survey results show Library and Archives Canada (LAC) employees are significantly more negative about their organization as a place to work than those of The UK National Archives (TNA).

That's the result of benchmarking LAC against TNA in official surveys.

TNA is one of 97 organisations across the UK Civil Service that participates in The Civil Service People Survey. The last survey took place during October 2012, results are summarized in an 'Employee Engagement Index', a measure of how engaged employees are with their work. The index is based on responses to five of the key questions in the people survey:

I am proud when I tell others I am part of The National Archives
I would recommend The National Archives as a great place to work
I feel a strong personal attachment to The National Archives
The National Archives inspires me to do the best in my job
The National Archives motivates me to help it achieve its objectives
The index at 66% overall places TNA as a Civil Service High Performer. Read the survey results at http://goo.gl/yXzbd.

Through Reference Services at LAC I received a prompt answer to a query on whether LAC conducts surveys on its employee morale and how the results of such surveys may be accessed.

I was directed to the Public Service Employee Survey, online as a whole at
http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pses-saff/index-eng.asp with the results for a 2011 survey for LAC at

While there do not seem to be point-blank questions about morale, several of the questions under "Organization Results" capture details that speak to this question. Out of 23 questions for which results are given showing the variance from the Public Service of Canada (PSC) average LAC ranked lower than average in all but one question.

On the positive side LAC management can celebrate receiving a 1% greater positive rating, 88% rather than 87%, than the PSC overall in response to "During meetings in my work unit, I feel free to use the official language of my choice".

On the negative side, there was a 10%  or greater gap (greater than 20% in bold), with responses less positive than the PSC average, for the questions:
- I feel that the quality of my work suffers because of…lack of stability in my department or agency
- My department or agency does a good job of communicating its vision, mission and goals.- My department or agency reviews and evaluates the progress towards meeting its goals and objectives.
- If I am faced with an ethical dilemma or a conflict between values in the workplace, I know where I can go for help in resolving the situation.
- Discussions about values and ethics occur in my workplace.
- Senior managers in my organization lead by example in ethical behaviour.- I have confidence in the senior management of my department or agency.- Senior management in my department or agency makes effective and timely decisions.
- I believe that senior management will try to resolve concerns raised in this survey.
- Essential information flows effectively from senior management to staff.
- I think that my department or agency respects individual differences (e.g., culture, work styles, ideas, etc.).
- Overall, my department or agency treats me with respect.
- My department or agency is committed to creating a diverse workforce.
- I would recommend my department or agency as a great place to work.- I am satisfied with my department or agency.
The question "I would recommend my department or agency as a great place to work" was asked in both the TNA and LAC surveys. At TNA there was a 65%
positive response, very comparable to the PSC average at 64%. But the figure for LAC is way down at 41%.

No only do the responses show an overwhelmingly more negative view of LAC senior management by employees than for the PSC as a whole, but LAC responses are generally more negative than in the previous survey.

Two years later how is LAC senior management doing in addressing these deficiencies?

07 April 2013

Ancestry.ca Remembers Vimy

In recognition of the anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge Ancestry.ca is offering free access to its collection of First World War historical records from April 9th to 12th.

Ancestry.ca writes about one of the everyday heroes who served in the Battle (slightly edited):

Joseph Henry Mees was born on Feb. 2, 1889, and 28 years old when he fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. As a gunner Joseph’s duty likely would have put him in frequent close proximity to direct combat – if he wasn’t participating directly.  
He had left behind his wife Mary Julian Mees and two small daughters in Montreal. His role was as gunner,  affectionately referred to as “the ammunition carrier”. During the First World War gunners provided close support to other men in combat or attacked targets and were often in close proximity to or participating in direct combat. Courage was incredibly important to these highly engaged artillery positions. One year after enlistment, Joseph found himself at the battle of Vimy Ridge. Joseph wrote home as much as possible and in one letter he mentions his Vimy Ridge experience. He writes that prior to the battle there was considerable shelling by the Germans, but until all their artillery was in place his crew could not fire back. However, the taking of Vimy Ridge went perfectly. He boasts that his infantry was tickled with his crew’s work. Soon after the battle, while he was resting in what was left of the village of Vimy, Joseph and three other crew members were injured by German shelling. Thankfully, his wounds were described as slight. He returned home to Canada in 1919, and quickly settled into the life of an ordinary man, like so many other returning heroes before and after him. He had two more children, worked as a tile settler and passed away at the age of 63 in 1952.
Mees was born in Ireland of an English father and Irish mother. He is found in the 1901 Irish census. Like so many who served, he had moved to Canada in the decade before WW1. He is found in the Ancestry.ca's Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980 collection. There is further information at http://goo.gl/H2Y7D.

Sussex Family Historian, March 2013 Contents

This issue of Sussex Family Historian celebrates the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Sussex Family History Group. Congratulations.
The anniversary issue, wrapped in the usual colourful glossy cover, includes feature articles looking back:
The Early History of the SFHG
And To Bring Us Up To Date
A Link With The Past
Sussex Pre-1837 Marriages
40 Years Of Distributing The Historian
A Marked Card
The 1881 Census Indexing Project
Who Was John Doe?
Surnames As Given Names
Looking behind The Registers
Alfriston And Its Parish Registers
Ups and Downs Of Genealogy
Monumental Inscriptions
They Call Him 'Com' For Short
Henry's Crooked Little Fingers
The Sussex Baptismal Index
Aunt Sarah's Great Adventure
Envy Me?

There are also the regular items conventionally found in such a publication. One that caught my eye, reprinted from volume 8, was a note on deaths during the storm of 26-27 November 1703 (OS). Reportedly 8,000 people were killed, but the writer could find no excess burials in the East Grinstead parish register of the time. Today we have great online resources like a well referenced Wikipedia article.