30 November 2013

Peter Martin RIP

Sad to record the passing of Peter Martin who made notable volunteer contributions to the local Ottawa genealogical community. Peter was on the Board for Ottawa Branch OGS for ten years organizing the speaker program and for Gene-O-Rama. He was an active member of the Irish SIG and more recently contributed in arranging audio-visual facilities for meetings and conferences.

FMP adds further English parish records

It's been over two months since findmypast.co.uk announced any additions to their offerings. Now they've added nearly fifty thousand parish record transcriptions.

From the Northumberland & Durham FHS, 28,163 marriage records, mostly to 1812. The parishes are: Alnham, Alwinton, Bamburgh, Belford, Berwick, Berwick upon Tweed, Bishopswearmouth, Bolam, Bothal, Carham. Corbridge, Corsenside, Ellingham, Froxfield, Gosforth, Holy Island, Kirkwhelpington, Lanchester, Lesbury, Longhiughton, Lucker, Newscastle upon Tyne, Rothbury, Stamfordham, Wooler

From the Devon FHS,  11,735 baptismal records, mostly from 1813 to the late 1830s. The parishes are: Ashbury, Bampton, Bittadon, Boyton, Brenton, Cheldon, Clyst St George, Culmstock, East Buckland, Eggesford, Hollacombe,
Kenton, Plymstock, Sidbury, St Giles in the Heath, StThomas, Stockleigh Pomeroy, Uffculme, Werrington, West Worlington, Witheridge.

Also from the Devon FHS, 2,387 burials records for Ashbury, Bittadon, Boyton, Challacombe, Cheldon, Clayhanger, Coffinswell, East Buckland Hollacombe, Luffincott, Meshaw, Petton Chapelry of Bampton Parish, St Giles in the Heath, Stockleigh Pomeroy, Stoke Damerel, Torbryan, Wembworthy, Werrington, West Worlington

For Thames & Medway 2,080 baptismal records and 260 marriage records for Cliffe At Hoo; and 1,652 burials records for St Helen’s Church.

Remember Family History Centres

If you think of the local Family History Centre as the place to go to consult microfilms on loan from Salt Lake City, think again.  They are still that, but now much more. Through their FamilySearch Portal you can get free access to:

  • 19th Century British Newspapers - searchable by name, date, etc; British Newspapers 1800-1900
  • Access Newspaper Archives - Collection of newspapers around the world but centering on the US
  • Alexander Street Press, American Civil War- Soldiers, Battles, Letters, Photos, etc.
  • Ancestry [Library Edition] (also at Toronto Public Library)
  • FindMyPast.co.uk - the British version of FindMyPast (does not include any newspaper archives)
  • Fold3 - US Historical military records and stories
  • Godfrey Memorial Library - Mainly US records
  • Heritage Quest Online- US Censuses, Genealogy & local history books, PERSI, Revolutionary War records, Freedman's Bank Records
  • Historic Map Works Library Edition - Old digitized maps from around the world

That's a list from the weekly newsletter from the Toronto Family History Centre which is celebrating the acquisition of 10 new computers, five set to access the FamilySearch Portal.

If you decide to visit, to the Toronto FHC or elsewhere, its always wise to call ahead to verify they're open, especially as we get into the holiday season. Find information on the FHCs at https://familysearch.org/locations/centerlocator?c=

29 November 2013

20th Annual BIFHSGO Family History Conference

The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa is seeking proposals for presentations at its annual conference, September 19 - 21, 2014, to be held in Ottawa at Library and Archives Canada.

The conference will focus on three main topics:
• English family history
• Immigration from the British Isles, including Home Children
• Genetic genealogy
Proposals are also invited for other conference presentations likely to be of interest to BIFHSGO members and for pre-conference workshops or seminars.

Details on submission requirements at: www.bifhsgo.ca/cpage.php?pt=125

Please send proposals to conference@bifhsgo.ca before January 31, 2014.

28 November 2013

FTDNA Black Friday sale

Family Tree DNA is offering a discount of 10% off  the regular $99 price if you place two or more Family Finder (autosomal) orders, BUT only until midnight Friday (presumably Houston time).
That's in addition to the free Restaurant.com gift card offered with every Family Finder purchase.

New records at the Nova Scotia Archives

Nine new record sets added to the Nova Scotia Archives in November include:
- annual accruals for births (1912), marriages (1937) and deaths (1962) from Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Nova Scotia Vital Statistics.
- church registers for St John's Lutheran Church, Mahone Bay, comprising  baptisms (1876-1912, one register 1854-1957 (sic)); marriages (1877-1912; 1917-1955); burials (1885-1956).
See the complete list at www.novascotia.ca/nsarm/newholdings.asp

British Dialect Glossaries

On the search for the word "houdge" found in an inventory in Sussex I've been checking out dialect glossaries and dictionaries available on the Internet Archive. Here are some which regrettably didn't help with this search;

The English dialect dictionary, being the complete vocabulary of all dialect words still in use, or known to have been in use during the last two hundred years; (1898)

Vol 1 (A-C) - https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi01wrig
Vol 2 (D-G) - https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi02wrig
Vol 3 (H-L) - https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi03wrig
Vol 4 (M-Q) - https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi04wrig
Vol 5 (R-S) - https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi05wrig
Vol 6 (T-Z) - https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi06wrig

A Scot's dialect dictionary, comprising the words in use from the latter part of the seventeenth century to the present day (1911)

Also several more local publications:

BIFHSGO DNA interest group meets November 30

The next quarterly meeting of BIFHSGO's DNA Special Interest Group is on Saturday, November 30, 9:30 am to 12:00 pm in Room 226, City of Ottawa Archives, 100 Tallwood Drive, Ottawa, Ontario

Members will share experiences, information and ideas about the use of DNA evidence in exploring family history.

27 November 2013

LAC and the Auditor General

Library and Archives Canada was not targeted by the Auditor General in the most recent report. One of the audits reported was "Access to Online Services" and had LAC been reviewed maybe they could have found out why one year later LAC's website still includes the notice "In order to provide you with better service, we are currently redesigning our website. If you have difficulty finding what you are looking for, feel free to contact us."

LAC can't dodge the bullet forever. The Fall 2014 report anticipates a chapter on "Preserving Canadian Documentary Heritage."

Two articles in Investigative Genetics

Investigative Genetics is "a peer-reviewed, open access, online journal, which publishes articles on the development and application of molecular genetics in a wide range of science disciplines with societal relevance. These include forensic issues and legal medicine, evolutionary, anthropological and historical studies, as well as epidemiology and biosafety."

That's outside my normal range of reading as a genealogist.

However, a recent article DNA fingerprinting in anthropological genetics: past, present, future provides a fairly comprehensible review of the field focusing on the contributions of Sir Alec Jeffreys since 1985.

The article Modeling the contrasting Neolithic male lineage expansions in Europe and Africa (pdf) also caught my attention as it refers to my R1b Y-DNA lineage which predominates in much of Europe.

The study concludes that the expansion of R1b following the end of the Ice Age (last glacial period) was rapid occurring as soon as the major R1b lineage entered Europe. It started from just one to three men, whose numbers expanded more than a thousandfold in just up to 600 years. This could only happen if those ancestors found themselves in a remarkably favourable environment.

By contrast expansion of E1b1a in sub-Saharan Africa began from a larger population size, took thousands of years and ended only recently.

Historical Society of Ottawa November Meeting

"An early archeological site near Kars" is the topic for the November 29 presentation by Ken Swayze.
The BfGv-3 Wellington Ridge site was discovered during a Stage 2 archaeological survey of a residential subdivision site near Kars, once a beach on a small island in the Champlain Sea. It dates from the Early Archaic, a little known time period only recently recognized in northeastern North America. The Ottawa Valley is an ideal region for discovery of archaeological Early Archaic sites because it was flooded for thousands of years and bedrock uplift has preserved the relic shorelines.
The meeting starts at 1:00 pm in the lounge of the Routhier Community Centre, 172 Guigues Street at Cumberland.

26 November 2013

Legacy Family Tree 8.0 Now Available

Legacy Family Tree is one of the genealogy programs I've used over the years. I don`t find any program ideal, but like most reviewers judge Legacy to be on a par with the top ranked.
Today the company announce that version 8.0, long anticipated, is now available with dozens of significant new features and enhancements. Here`s what they emphasise as new and updated:

Origins Report - See where you came from and the percentage of "blood" you have from your countries of origin with the new Origins Report.
Migration Report - See how far and wide a person's descendants spread out in the world with the new Migration Report.
Migration Mapping - Legacy animates the ancestor's movement through time. Watch how they migrated from place to place. View their migration in street, aerial, or 3D modes. Hover over the balloon to see what happened in each location.
Instant Duplicate Checking - As you are adding new individuals to your tree, Legacy instantly checks to see if perhaps they are already in your family file, helping you avoid inadvertently adding duplicates.
Potential Problem Alerts and Gaps - Typos and accidental misinterpretation of data are now a thing of the past. The warning symbol is displayed immediately next to info that contains a potential problem. Unusual gaps of time are detected that you may have not previously noticed (like too many years between the births of the children).
Shared Events - Save time and avoid errors by sharing an event amongst all the individuals who participated in the event. You can specify each person's role in the event.
Family Bow Tie Chart - Displays the ancestors of both the husband and wife, as well as their children.
Descendant Chart - Now available in left-to-right formatting.
Source Quality - Now record the quality (original vs derivative, primary vs secondary, etc., direct vs indirect) of each source as you attempt to prove your conclusions.
Source Labels - Now print Source Labels to attach to the top of your documents. You will never again lose the citation when making a photocopy for someone else.
Source Clipboard - The Source Clipboard has been expanded to load up to five different citations that can be assigned at the click of a button.
Pedigree Citations - Add source citations to your Pedigree Charts, and attach the complete bibliography.
FamilySearch Integration - Share, discuss, download and interact with FamilySearch's Family Tree (optional).
Wall Charts - Duplicate lines can now be suppressed, saving room for more photographs and captions.
Chronology View - Now view the parent's, grandparent's, children's, and grandchildren's vital events in your ancestor's timeline.
User Interface - Enjoy Legacy's modernised look-and-feel, new colour schemes, and new ribbon menu bar. Add two additional custom buttons on the new My Toolbar.
Tagging - View up to 9 tags at once. Advanced Tagging now shows the counts of each tag.
Automatic Sorting - Children, marriages, and events are now automatically chronologically sorted as they are added. New global sorting tools are also now available.
Statistics - Understand your family in new ways with dozens of new statistics: births by era, longest living individuals, average lifespan, longest marriages, families with the most children, most popular given names, most popular surnames, most popular locations and more.
Media Relinker - It is easier than ever to locate missing or unlinked pictures. Moving from one computer to another is simpler to do.
Media Gatherer - Got pictures all over your computer? The new Media Gatherer will help you copy or move your genealogy pictures to one common folder, making it easier to share your family file with another computer or family member.
Web Links - Found evidence of your ancestor online? Easily add a web link to their media gallery to organize a list of their online presence.
Colour Coding - You can now colour code from two starting points (one for you and one for your spouse, for example) and track the eight great-grandparents' lines.
Watch the What's New Video.

There`s a discount if you purchased Legacy previously, a discounted download only version and a free standard version.


Book Review: The Juggler's Children

Monday's edition of CBC radio's The Next Chapter, with Shelagh Rogers, included Antanas Sileika's review of The Juggler's Children by Carolyn Abraham. Listen from http://www.cbc.ca/thenextchapter/ starting just after minute 27.

25 November 2013

40% off all records on rootsireland.ie

The following is a limited time offer.
"Rootsireland.ie is delighted to announce that all records will have a discount of 40% until Wednesday, December 4th 2013 (midnight IrishTime/GMT). You can purchase any record for just 15 credits instead of the usual 25 credits.
To obtain this offer just go to the following site and login using your existing IFHF login details. http://www.rootsireland.ie 
We now have over 20 million records online and recently added further records from Counties Armagh and Monaghan.
Remember that you can purchase and spend your credit at any of the IFHF online centres.
Please check out our interactive map to see which counties have records on the site and Online Sources for details of start and end dates of parish records etc
If you have any questions please check our Help section and if this does not provide an answer, then do not hesitate to contact us or one or the county centres."
Thanks to Ann Burns for the tip

23andMe battles US FDA

On Nov 22, 2013 Ann Wojcicki, CEO of 23andMe, Inc. was sent a letter by the US Food and Drug Administration stating that "23andMe must immediately discontinue marketing the PGS (Personal Genome Service) until such time as it receives FDA marketing authorization."
The letter cites 14 face-to-face and teleconference meetings, hundreds of email exchanges, and dozens of written communications over more than a year attempting to bring 23andMe into compliance with FDAs interpretation of US regulation.
FDA's concern is 23andMe's health interpretation of the DNA results, the ancestry service would only be impacted if it was sideswiped. More likely the company will continue its battle - as of noon EST on Monday there is no change evident on the site.
However, to be on the safe side I've downloaded the raw data for those I've had tested by the company. From your 23andMe account home page click your profile, fourth from the left on the top menu bar. Select BROWSE RAW DATA, then select DOWNLOAD which is second from the right in the second menu bar from the top. You need to re-enter your password and answer you secret question before download starts. Then save the zipped file.  You might also want to save the health overview file. Click on HEALTH OVERVIEW from your main page, print to pdf and save.

UK, Civil Engineer Lists, 1818-1930 updated

Ancestry's list of UK civil engineers now claims 194,446 entries. The information contained is engineer’s name, election year, location, and professional position held. As they came out several times a year you can follow changes through the professional career.
Although its a UK list there are a good many people working outside the UK included. I found nine entries for William Patrick Anderson, living in Ottawa, who turns up in multiple other Ancestry Canadian records from his birth in 1852 in Quebec to burial at Beechwood Cemetery in 1927.

This database is in addition to the UK Civil Engineer records and photographs mentioned here.

24 November 2013

Almonte Gazette Searchable Database Project Summary and Some “Tips and Hints” to Search Effectively

This is a follow up to a previous post about the Almonte Gazette, a document prepared by Matthew Moxley of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum.

Project Summary

The Almonte Public Library and the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum partnered in 2012 and 2013 to digitize the Almonte Gazette newspaper collection and make it searchable and accessible to the general public. This was a project that was in the works years earlier when the Almonte Public Library had the newspapers from 1861-1989 professionally scanned.

Because of the size of newspapers, regular scanners cannot be used effectively to reproduce a digital image. Therefore, a large-format scanner must be used. Large-format scanners are quite expensive, difficult to use, and generally, not available to the general public. This being the case, people and organizations usually get private companies (print shops, graphic design shops, etc) with access to these large-format scanners to perform the scanning for them for a fee. This is what happened with the Almonte Public Libray and the Almonte Gazettes prior to this current project and the images were saved for future use.

The 2012/2013 partnerships sole purpose was to make these valuable images into searchable files so researchers can perform keyword searches and be directed to appropriate articles. This would immensely speed up Almonte Gazette research that was only available before by microfilm. Two components were needed to makes the scanned images into searchable documents: the proper software and an employee to perform the work.

Matthew Moxley was hired to perform the task of creating searchable documents for online use. After some research, a character recognition software program called ABBYY was purchased to convert digital images into searchable documents that can be used in a variety of ways. Mr. Moxley would oversee this by putting in the correct images to make complete issues, correcting any major spelling errors, rotating pages upright, and organizing the new searchable documents. Over 6,300 newspapers and over 31,000 pages were converted into searchable documents. This process took several months to complete.

Once the files were converted to searchable documents, the next step of posting them online needed to be resolved. This initially proved to be a challenge due to financial constraints. The grant only covered the costs of converting the newspapers into searchable documents. Any web integration would have to be done at the MVTM and Almonte Public Library’s own expense.  The MVTM explored programs and services that would perform this, but the end result was too expensive because of the volume of the newspapers. Thankfully, the MVTM has a brilliant webmaster who has volunteered his time to create an MVTM website and then integrate the searchable newspapers onto the site. With no resources available, he had to create his own database in order search the newspapers and return results. This free database/search function now gives researchers the ability to search 150 years of town news and family histories. The searching could be a little simpler, however, we would need software made available that is relatively free of charge and supports over 30 gigabytes of data.

Over the course of the project, an estimated 50-75 issues were seen as “missing” from the collection. We have made note of these missing issues and will keep an eye out for them in the future.

How the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Works

It may be helpful to understand how the OCR software worked to make sense of the some of the results you are or are not getting. OCR is the mechanical or electronic conversion of scanned images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text into machine-encoded text. The program analyzes the structure of document image. It divides the page into elements such as blocks of texts, tables, images, etc. The lines are divided into words and then - into characters. Once the characters have been singled out, the program compares them with a set of pattern images. It advances numerous hypotheses about what this character is. Basing on these hypotheses the program analyzes different variants of breaking of lines into words and words into characters. After processing huge number of such probabilistic hypotheses, the program finally takes the decision, presenting you the recognized text. The OCR software reads the page like a page in a novel (left to right) rather than a typical newspaper page (narrow columns with different stories from left to right). Therefore, when returning results on the search engine no snippet is provided because more often than not, the snippet would not make much sense if viewed.

Tips and Hints

Searches should be limited to about a 10 year span to avoid timeouts.

The features for searching the Almonte Gazettes are highly dependent on the browser used to access the internet. It is hard to provide help if the exact configuration is not given. If you are experiencing difficulty make note OS name and version (e.g. OS X 10.9 on a mac or Windows 8 on a PC) plus the browser name and version (Safari 7.0, Internet explorer 9.0, etc).

Most of the advanced PDF viewers require quite recent versions of browsers. Unfortunately, if you are trying to use old computers or browsers, especially windows XP and IE6 or IE7, it simply will not work and there is nothing that can be done.

It is encourage that people download and install a recent browser (they are free after all!) such as Chrome (https://www.google.com/intl/en_uk/chrome/browser/) so that their problems can be reproduced and advice provided. Chrome is available for both Mac and Windows as well as most tablets and mobile phones.

Researchers should also realize that the search mechanism is limited by the accuracy of the original OCR scan which missed some words that were obscured, hyphenated or in a font that wasn’t recognized (e.g. in advertisements). Some newspaper original quality was poor while others were superb. This is much more apparent in the early year additions.

When searching, first, select the year(s) of issue that you are interested in, this will limit the amount of articles the database will search through, therefore getting results more quickly. Second, specify the search keyword(s) and click 'Perform Search'. Once the results appear, click on a reference to download PDF files of specific pages or issues that are of interest.  (Note that these PDF files are large and may take several minutes to download on your computer. Your browser will require a plug-in to view the downloaded files).

Keywords are in the context of a single page and are indexed by eliminating words of 3 characters or less and truncating words longer than 16 characters. Words in “None of these” (exclusions) are only active if there is at least one inclusion in “Any” or “All of these.”

Once you have opened the PDF file you will have to perform a secondary keyword search in order for the word(s) you just searched to be highlighted. To perform this, simply press ctrl+F (PC) or command+F (Mac) and a box in the upper right hand corner will appear. Simply type in the word you searched minutes before again and you will be able to see the results highlighted in the article in a greyish/blue colour. Note: Only one word will be highlighted at a time. If there are multiples, you can press enter and find the duplicate words throughout the page.

If you cannot read the words on the newspaper page because they are too small, simply move your cursor to the bottom of the page to make the PDF tool-bar appear. There will be several options such as print, save, page number, and zooming. To perform a zoom on the page to make the words larger simply press the + sign. It is recommended that you zoom to about 200% to read the page comfortably.

If you would like to save one particular article, you can save the PDF and then go to “edit” then select “take a snap shot” and paste that image into a word document or paint. There you can save or print the article.

If you would like to look up a particular issue of the Gazette, you will have to indicate the year and search a very common word such as “Almonte” You will then get the results along with dates of the issues. Simply click the desired date.

If you are having difficulty finding words in the actual PDF make sure your brower and plugins are up to date as stated earlier.

If you have any issues or problems using this new resource please do not hesitate to contact Matthew Moxley at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum at collections@mvtm.ca.

OGS Toronto Branch November meeting

On Monday 25 November at 7:30pm OGS Toronto Branch members will share their stories with fast-paced five-minute talks on "great moments" in their genealogy research. Meet in the Burgundy Room, North York Memorial Community Hall, 5110 Yonge Street, Toronto.

23 November 2013

Bloodlines writers contest

CBC's Canada Writes latest writers contest is called Bloodlines. They want family stories told in 400 to 500 words and an image of something related to the story to go with it. Details can be found at: http://www.cbc.ca/books/canadawrites/rules-and-regulations-bloodlines-challenge.html

Thanks to Barbara Tose for the tip.

Ancestry updates London, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1965

This database first appeared on Ancestry last year with 139 million entries, listing everybody in a particular area who had the right to vote. With the new update there are now more than 159 million entries.

The database is compiled using an optical character recognition technique. That always means errors. I found my paternal grandfather every year from 1929, when the family moved to London, to 1939, except one. My maternal grandfather appeared from 1924 to 1960, with gaps. Expect problems with incorrect addresses, especially street names. Its essential to check the image to find out what the record really reads and who else of voting age is in the household.

Is thekeep.info a keeper?

Sussex has a new archives. The Keep is a new physical facility for archives that opens up access to all the collections of the East Sussex Record Office (ESRO), the Royal Pavilion & Museums Local History Collections and the internationally significant University of Sussex Special Collections.
An associated website at thekeep.info is in development. Only a first version is presently available. They asked for feedback, so I asked BIFHSGO colleague, Christine Jackson, an experienced Sussex researcher, to take a look. She reported:
I tried the new Keep website on 21 November, two days after The Keep archive centre opened to the public, and spent about 30 minutes browsing - specifically trying to find two things on which I have previously wanted information from the East Sussex Records Office (ESRO).  
I failed to find information on the two items for which I was searching, namely, the list of the parish registers which are available at the ESRO, and information regarding pre-1858 wills from East Sussex - and was not at all impressed with the website. Fortunately the East Sussex County Council website still has the old ESRO pages up and I easily found what I was seeking amongst a list of several guides and lists for people wishing to use ESRO's collections.
I found the introductory pages of thekeep.info far too wordy, and was put off by the Search box which obscures the headings to each of the pages - presumably a design issue. I found some basic information was missing (left blank), namely, the cost of parking and whether or not the parking spots for disabled visitors can be reserved in advance. When I did locate a section in the ‘Doing family history’ segment of the site regarding available pre-1837 sources, it included limited information about only parish registers, the baptism index and burial index. 

22 November 2013

Moving the British Library newspaper collection

The Newspaper Library of the British Library at Colindale in North London is no more. The BBC Magazine has a sensitive video acknowledging the value of the old, and promoting the benefits of the new Boston Spa facility where 750 million items are being relocated. View it, after an ad, at:

Scottish medical database for the First World War online

The following is from the Scotlandspeople.gov.uk newsletter

"The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) has just launched an online searchable database, which is likely to be of great interest to genealogists who are looking to trace family ancestors with a medical background who lived in Scotland at this time.
The online database contains over 3,000 records for doctors (including women doctors) living in Scotland who registered to provide civilian cover, or were intending to enter active service, during the First World War. You can learn more about the database, which is free to search, on the RCPE website."
See the complete newsletter at http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/Content/Help/index.aspx?r=546&2153

You can't say that about them

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission database records 64,995 deaths in Canadian WW1 Forces. The Canadian Virtual War Memorial records a few more who died in the same period where they are referred to as "The Fallen". That suggests they died of wounds received in battle, and for most that is the case.

But I've come across some instances recently of people holding a military position, but far away from the fighting, who died of causes seemingly unrelated to the war, yet recorded in the databases above. One example, who I won't name, served as a paymaster and auditor in Ottawa and died in April 1918 of spinal meningitis. His Ontario death certificate makes no mention of military involvement giving occupation as C.S. The burial record from Beechwood Cemetery records his occupation simply as Civil Servant.

Should we honour those who died in time of war but away from military action doing basically the same job they did as a civilian? Should we not rather honour the men and women who survived the war only to live with physical and mental scars from their front-line service?

21 November 2013

Indexed Canada Passenger Lists, 1881-1922 on FamilySearch

Now on FamilySearch.org, indexed records with images of originals of incoming ships passenger lists "for the ports of Quebec City, 1900-1921; Halifax, 1881-1922; Saint John, 1900-1912; North Sydney, 1906-1912; Vancouver, 1905-1912; Victoria, 1905-1912; New York, 1906-1912; and Eastern US Ports, 1905-1912. The lists for United States ports include only those names of passengers with intentions of proceeding directly to Canada." See them at https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1823240

If the period of interest isn't covered in this collection check out Library and Archives Canada at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/genealogy/022-908-e.html and Ancestry.ca

Canadiana.org: Historical Debates of the Parliament of Canada

Historical Debates of the Parliament of Canada, now offered free by Canadian.ca, is a digitised version of the debates of the Senate and the House of Commons.
from Parliament 1, Session 1 (1867) until January 17, 1994 for the Commons and February 27, 1996 for the Senate.
These are offered in collaboration with The Library of Parliament which provides coverage after those dates at parl.gc.ca under Parliamentary Business.
You can search for phrases, with wildcards and excluded terms. Unfortunately the search term is not highlighted in the page image.

Online genealogical dataset exploited for big data research

A preprint of an article Data Mining of Online Genealogy Datasets for Revealing
Lifespan Patterns in Human Population (pdf) by Michael Fire and Yuval Elovici has just appeared.  It uses over a million profiles from WikiTree, and focuses on 363,292 for individuals who were born in the United States,
The paper is mostly about the techniques which are gobbledygook for anyone but the big data analysis specialist
Results reported show, with high confidence, some very small influences on lifespan.

"Our findings indicate that significant but small positive correlations exist between the parents’ lifespan and their children’s lifespan. Additionally, we found slightly higher and significant correlations between the lifespans of spouses. We also discovered a very small positive and significant correlation between longevity and reproductive success in males, and a small and significant negative correlation between longevity and reproductive success in females. Moreover, our machine learning algorithms presented better than random classification results in predicting which people who outlive the age of 50 will also outlive the age of 80."
The analysis also identifies some interesting anomalies in the records, periods where the US median lifespan for males increased while that for females suddenly decreased, or vice versa. From 1650 to 1660 the male median lifespan increased from 61.86, to 66.81 while in the same period of time the female median lifespan decreased from 63.04 to 60.8. Between 1770 and 1780 the female average lifespan increased from 66.31 to 68.63, while the male average lifespan decreased from 66.55 to 64.29. Why, one wonders!

It's good to see databases like WikiTree being exploited in this manner. Maybe the tools used will be made more accessible to the layman so that this type of study can benefit, just as genetic genealogy has prospered through the efforts of citizen scientists

20 November 2013

23andMe improves Ancestry Composition

Although ancestry isn't the primary business for 23andMe.com the company analysis of a client's ethnic ancestry, they call it Ancestry Composition, is arguably the most comprehensive available. It has just been updated to display origins from 31 populations worldwide, up from 22 before. Greater geographic resolution is given for Africa and Asia.

The change has introduced minor changes to components of my European ancestry, up to 1%.
A change in the colour scheme is also introduced. In the diagram Ashkenazi is now shown by pale green replacing the previous dark blue which was too close to the blue shade for France and Germany.
Meanwhile my Family Tree DNA equivalent analysis continues to show a breakdown into only two regions, European and Middle East (Jewish). A more refined analysis was promised to be forthcoming at the recent FTDNA Administrator meeting.

Writing your family history story

Writing Your Story is a two-page pdf handout by Eunice Robinson and Judith Ueland of the British Columbia Genealogical Society for a Vancouver Public Library presentation on November 19, 2013. It contains a long list of books and website suggestions, with references specific to availability in the Vancouver area, but otherwise more generally useful.

Thanks to Gail Dever for the tip


19 November 2013

The Almonte Gazette – Online

Those with roots in the Ottawa Valley have a new resource, the Almonte Gazette now searchable online from 1861-1989.
The availability is thanks to cooperation between the  Mississippi Valley Textile Museum which organized the digitization/indexing and the Almonte Public Library which had previously imaged the town’s newspaper.
Like many local papers the Almonte Gazette is a rich source for social information as well as births, deaths and marriages within the area.
I advise reading the search instructions. My experience is that the search times out if too wide a range of years is included or only some of the results are returned.


Thanks to Prof Bruce Elliott for the tip

As newspaper researchers know, one of the dangers is becoming distracted. In a 20 April 1883 issue I came across this item. It is perennially popular http://youtu.be/W7x1ETPkZsk
Wikipedia informs that the item was already 60 years old going back to the 1820s.

Celebrating tiny little Irish sources

John Genham's most recent Irish Roots column for the Irish Times points to the
Flyleaf Press and their tiny little sources. The tiny little sources posted on the Flyleaf Press blog are:
Tarbert (Co. Kerry) schoolchildren 1809
Labourers in Shanagolden area 1808.
Tenants of Quansbury Estate (Galway) 1777-78.
Labourers in Kilcavan Parish, Wexford 1850.
Tenants on Ram Estate, Gorey, Co. Wexford in 1826
Tenants of John’s Hill, Waterford 1831-40
Kerry Petitioners 1828
Carlow Tenants of the Knight of Kerry 1856
The last is labelled number nine, but count those above and you'll only find eight. The number one seems to have been aged off. If any of the above look to be of interest better hop to it or they may age off too.

18 November 2013

Book Review: More Than a Mere Matter of Marching

On the occasion of the bicentennial of the War of 1812 the Niagara Peninsula Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society has published a collection of stories about men and women who found themselves in some way, sometimes unwillingly, involved in the war.

The book, with more than 60 stories, on 275 pages, takes its title from a remark by Thomas Jefferson early in the war. "The acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Québec, will be a mere matter of marching, and will give us experience for the attack of Halifax the next, and the final expulsion of England from the American continent."

A few of the stories are a little more than recitation of genealogy, others reflect in-depth research and insight. As Ronald J Dale writes in his Forward "Like most oral histories, there are flaws in the historical accuracy of some accounts. Minor factual errors and misunderstandings of the context of the events are evident in some of this family history but nonetheless the stories stand as fascinating testaments to the way in which the war of 1812 is perceived by the descendants ..."

The last 16 pages of the book contain a valuable index with well over 1700 names of those mentioned in the text.

Given the importance of the Niagara frontier in the war of 1812 this publication by the local OGS branch is most timely and should be welcomed by those with a connection to or interest in this important period of Canadian history.

More Than A Mere Matter of Marching may be ordered directly from the branch through the website at http://www.ogs.on.ca/niagara/.

Isle of Wight records

Those with ancestors who lived on the Isle of Wight will not want to miss the online resources provided by The Isle of Wight Family History Society.

Indexes for all births, marriages and deaths registered on the island from 1837 to 2010 have been transcribed by society members from information provided by the Isle of Wight Record Office. Births usually include the mother's maiden name, marriages identify the spouse, deaths include age and sometimes a woman's maiden name.
A database of monumental inscriptions gives name, date and place of death and burial, and an age estimate, but not the text of the MI in the samples I examined.
A small database of census strays includes those found in other locations with an IOW connection.
Finally there's an index of "names recorded on Isle of Wight War Memorials, Rolls of Honour, and Commonwealth War Graves of service men and women buried in Island churchyards and cemeteries. It also records the names of wartime casualties where these are given on additional inscriptions on gravestones."
The IOWFHS is quite active with many other resources of interest posted for all to view, and more available to members.


17 November 2013

On order at the Ottawa Public Library

The following are books of potential interest to family historians now on order by the Ottawa Public Library (OPL).

The Famine Ships: the Irish Exodus to America
Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland Index: Index of People and Places
From Fermanagh to Fitzroy and Beyond: Descendants of Edward Joseph Lunney & Johanna Mantle
Family Secrets: Shame and Privacy in Modern Britain
Jewish Lives: Britain 1750-1950 (How Our Ancestors Lived)
Marriages in Nova Scotia (excluding Halifax City) 1752-1841 (4 vols.)
London Free Press Jan.1849-July 1861 (London, Ontario)
Ultimate Sacrifice: Those Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice in the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve, and the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, 1939-1947 (4 vols.)
Le sacrifice du Royal 22e Régiment (de 1914 à 1999)
Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques
Thanks to Diana Hall of the OPL for providing the list

Google search terms survey results

On Wednesday I posted a survey "Which of the following Google search terms do you use for genealogy/family history." There were 125 responses.

97% use Google for genealogy.
90% use quotation marks to search phrases

People may not use a search protocol because they don't know about it, or they do and don't find it useful or necessary. Google is so good a simple search, with or without quotation marks, may be all that's needed to discover the information sought.

Slightly under half the respondents use the negative symbol and site: protocols.

49% use a negative symbol, -, to exclude a search term
42% use site: to search within a specific website

About a quarter (26%) of respondents use two periods between two numbers to search within a range, especially years. 20% use tilde, ~, to find synonyms. Protocols link: and related: are used by 17% and 13% respectively.

A comment post by Jill Ball is that the tilde search is no longer available. I'd read that, but it's something I haven't used lately.

That set me looking at other protocols. A search for digby gave 5.2 million results, digby -scotia 14.4 million, digby -nova 14.3 million, digby -"nova scotia" 15.9 million.  

I can't find any documentation but one simple way to drastically reduce the number of hits returned is to add a plus sign immediately before the search term. Searching +digby gave 230 results. Please leave a comment if you use the plus sign, or find any documentation for it. 

16 November 2013

TNA podcast: Death and taxes: understanding the death duty registers

Dave Annal, in this talk presented on 3 October, concludes that "death duty registers are difficult to use, but that's no excuse not to try."

This is an example of a talk that really needs the visuals for listeners to get full benefit. It isn't encouraging to hear:

"the confusing thing is, when you're looking at the second entry, this line here is that information, but you have to go back up to the top heading to understand what each of these sections means - you see what I mean here - its quite difficult." 
Find the podcast at http://media.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php/death-taxes-understanding-death-duty-registers/

Pharos Teaching and Tutoring courses for early 2014

Courses - January 2014, February 2014, March 2014
Course TitleStarting Date
Course Length
Cost Website Link
Beginners Guide to Creating & Researching Your Family Tree (#020) 1/1/14 3 Weeks £21.99 http://www.pharostutors.com/details.php?coursenumber=020
One Place Studies - Research from a New Perspective (#317) 1/6/14 3 Weeks £33.99 http://www.pharostutors.com/details.php?coursenumber=317
So You Think You Know Family Research - A Guided Tour (#206) 1/7/14 4 Weeks £39.99 http://www.pharostutors.com/details.php?coursenumber=206
My British Isles Origins - When and How do I Cross the Pond? (#931) 1/9/14 4 Weeks $65.00 http://www.pharostutors.com/details.php?coursenumber=931
Professional Genealogist - Become one, become a better one (#941) 1/10/14 4 Weeks £47.99 http://www.pharostutors.com/details.php?coursenumber=941
Your Military Ancestors (#224) 1/13/14 4 Weeks £53.99 http://www.pharostutors.com/details.php?coursenumber=224
Introduction to Medieval Genealogy (#501) 1/27/14 5 Weeks £45.99 http://www.pharostutors.com/details.php?coursenumber=501
Dead and Buried, Not Forgotten (#214) 2/3/14 2 Weeks £26.99 http://www.pharostutors.com/details.php?coursenumber=214
The National Archives Website and Catalogue - Finding People (#207) 2/28/14 3 Weeks £33.99 http://www.pharostutors.com/details.php?coursenumber=207
Researching Your Welsh Ancestors (#119) 3/3/14 5 Weeks £45.99 http://www.pharostutors.com/details.php?coursenumber=119
Developing and Writing Your Family History (#803) 3/7/14 3 Weeks £33.99 http://www.pharostutors.com/details.php?coursenumber=803
The Poor, The Parish and The Workhouse (#203) 3/8/14 5 Weeks £61.00 http://www.pharostutors.com/details.php?coursenumber=203
Introduction to One-Name Studies (#901) 3/10/14 5 Weeks £45.99 http://www.pharostutors.com/details.php?coursenumber=901
Organizing Your Genealogy (#202) 3/11/14 3 Weeks £33.99 http://www.pharostutors.com/details.php?coursenumber=202
Maps and Surveys - Locating your Ancestors (#320) 3/18/14 5 Weeks £45.99 http://www.pharostutors.com/details.php?coursenumber=320
Climbing Trees - How to get children interested in family history (#110) 3/31/14 4 Weeks £39.99 http://www.pharostutors.com/details.php?coursenumber=110

15 November 2013

Closing 'British & Irish Genealogy Blog'

I was sorry to learn yesterday that Mick Southwick is closing his 'British & Irish Genealogy Blog' . It started in January 2011 and has been posted regularly twice a week. As Mick writes, its all a bit sudden, but life moves on.

One of his parting gifts is a list of the sources he has used in compiling his blog. Its worth reproducing:

The British GENES Blog;
Irish Genealogy News;
Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections;
DeceasedOnline Blog;
Scottish Genealogy Tips, Tricks & Tidbits;
Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter;
The National Archives news, etc., page;
The National Archives Blog;
The National Archives Podcasts;
BBC HistoryExtra website;
Society of Genealogists news page;
National Library of Scotland news page;
National Library of Wales Blog;
National Library of Ireland Blog and their news page;
The Family Recorder Blog;
FindMyPast.co.uk Blog;
FindMyPast Ireland Blog;
Ancestry.co.uk Blog;
MyHeritage Blog;
British Library's 'Press & Policy' news;
And always a good read: Abroad in the Yard blog;
Also, check out the e-newsletters from these folk: Lost Cousins, IHGS, FFHS and S&N Genealogy Supplies;
Plus, upcoming genealogy events, book fairs and postcard fairs
Usually, you can keep up-to-date with these blogs/websites by taking up their 'feeds' via someone like feedly.com. Give it a try - it's quite easy to set up.
Mick intends keeping his Twitter feed going at http://twitter.com/HistoryMick.

England and Wales Quaker BMDs from Ancestry

Ancestry have digitized and indexed records from The (UK) National Archives in RG6 , General Register Office: Society of Friends' Registers, Notes and Certificates of Births, Marriages and Burials. Records of the General Register Office, Government Social Survey Department, and Office of Population Censuses and Surveys.

These records include 234,598 births, 92,667 marriages, 18,834 deaths and, 239,919 burials starting in 1578 all the way up to the start of civil registration in 1837, with a few later entries.

The records are so early, you're fortunate if any relate to your family. There were already 3,905 events recorded in 1580, that grew to 9,132 in 1680, then declined and steadied off to around 8,000 annually in the 18th century.

The geographic distribution of events was widespread. Using exact geographical specification, which likely misses many entries, there were 5,240 in Cornwall, 16,401 in Cumberland, 8,206 in Lancashire, 2,420 in Leicestershire, 19,951 in London, 17,004 in Norfolk, 1,694 in Sussex, 7,653 in Warwickshire, 39,330 in Yorkshire.

14 November 2013

Bob Crawford R.I.P.

The Ontario Genealogical Society announces the sudden passing of Bob Crawford, Society Secretary, on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 following a brief illness. Bob is Past-President of OGS, having served in that role from 2006-2008, as well as Past-President of the Halton-Peel Branch.

 During his time with OGS, cemetery preservation became Bob's passion and he was a dedicated leader in the joint Ontario Genealogical Society - Ontario Historical Society cemetery registration movement. An eloquent writer, he continued to advocate for the discovery and registration of all cemeteries, and was in regular contact with the Registrar to ensure the registration process would move forward to protect all cemeteries in the province. His quiet passion, contributions and in-depth understanding of Acts and Regulations affecting the genealogical community will be greatly missed.

Gresham College lecture: The Londonderry Plantation from 1641 until the Disengagement at the end of the Nineteenth Century

In this talk from 23 October Professor Stevens Curl considers "The Londonderry Plantation from 1641 to the end of the nineteenth century, demonstrating how the behaviour of the King led to the alienation of the City of London and its support for Parliament, and explaining the long period of disillusion in the face of the Land Agitation and political ferment of the latter part of the 19th century."

Curl expresses his views forthrightly:

"secure in their fortresses of invincible ignorance"
"this should be glaringly obvious, even to the most myopic"
"Anglocentric historians ... take the path, not of the myopic, but of the blind" 
"The importance of the Londonderry Plantation in the history of these islands should be stressed: to ignore it, as far too many have done, is bad history, irresponsible, and careless, to put it at its mildest."

As for North America, Curl's view is that:
"Contrary to popular belief, most 18th-century emigrants (to BNA) were of Ulster-Scots Protestant stock. It is beyond the bounds of possibility that the Americans would (not) have won their independence without the determined (Prebyterian) Ulster-Scots, still smarting from memories and handed-down tales of their treatment in the North of Ireland."
Connect at http://goo.gl/jS7KK7

OGS Ottawa Branch: November meeting

The Saturday, 16 November, presentation to the Ottawa Branch monthly meeting will be How Do I Prove It: the Genealogical Proof Standard to be given by Heather Oakley. The meeting, which starts at 1 pm, is in the ground floor meeting room of the City Archives building at 100 Tallwood, Ottawa.

OGS Kingston and Quinte Branch November meetings

On Saturday, November 16, 2013 these two OGS Branches will receive a presentation by Glenn Wright, and it isn't a remote.

At the start of the Kingston Branch meeting Glenn will speak on Great Revelations: Canada, Canadians and the 1921 Census. That's 10 am in the Wilson Room (second floor) of the Central Branch, Kingston Frontenac Public Library, 130 Johnson Street, Kingston.

Google maps tells me its 100 km to the Quinte West Public Library, 7 Creswell Dr, Trenton where the Quinte Branch meeting starts at 1 pm. Glenn's talk is Silent No More: Researching Canada's War Dead 1885-1945.  The usual starting  time is 1:00 p.m.

Let's hope for good driving weather!

13 November 2013

Elizabeth Shown Mills: Advice on How to Research Family History, Part 2

The New York Times has now published a second helping of research advice for the family historian. This week ESM responds to questions under the headings:

Geographic ‘Memory Holes’ Created by the Holocaust
Migration of Holocaust Survivors to Argentina
Identifying Ancestral Photos
Genealogical Templates for Citing Sources
Numbering Systems for Genealogy
Researching a (US) Railroad Employee in 1921
Beginning Indian Research from the U.S.
Becoming a Professional Genealogist

Next week the topics will be slaves and an ex-slave, and New York-based genealogical questions.


Genealogy quick survey: Google search

You probably know about some of Google's search capabilities beyond the basics. Most of us are aware of additional capabilities, but how many do you actually use?

Please take the survey at https://survey.zohopublic.com/zs/29Bf4M

The Juggler's Children

On Saturday, November 16 at 2pm, in Ottawa, at The Nepean Centrepointe Library, Canadian science writer Carolyn Abraham will talk about her book The Juggler’s Children. She explores the power and ethical pitfalls of using genetic tests to answer questions of genealogy.
I enjoyed the book. Everyone I know who has read it has enjoyed it.

There's a longish interview from TVO at http://youtu.be/8q1ItwU3do0
The one hour session is free with registration and a few seats are available.


12 November 2013

1,000 Kingston region families genealogy

An announcement from the Queen’s University Archives arrived regarding the digitization of the Dr. Herbert Clarence Burleigh fonds .
"Research amassed by Dr. Burleigh on approximately 1,000 families, who have roots in the Kingston region, is now available on-line. Through our Genealogy page, researchers will be able to access an alphabetical list of individual family names, whose live link will then reveal as many as 800 pages per folder containing information relating to both family members and the area in which they resided."
A quick look shows newspaper clippings, hand-drawn family trees, letters, cemetery plot transcriptions, family bible extracts and much more. The contents are page images, not digitally searchable. Find an alphabetic index to a list of file surnames at http://archives.queensu.ca/databases/genealogy/burleigh.html
A reminder, hopefully unnecessary, that finding this archival information does not absolve the researcher of verifying the research themselves.

Photos of England of a bygone era

A retrospective of photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr from the late 1960s and early 1970s. View this short video for "a distinctive take on English eccentricity" of a bygone era.

OGS Niagara Penninsula Branch: November meeting online

On Thursday, November 14, Doug Massey and Keith Clark will present “The Battle of Beaver Dams: Uncommon Courage”.
The Battle of Beaver Dams took place on 24 June 1813.
This video/Power Point presentation will be available free online starting at 7 pm EST. The chance of technological problems experienced for the last two meetings will be reduced as the speakers will be in the meeting room. For remote access hit Video Stream at http://www.ogs.on.ca/niagara/
To attend in person the location is First Gratham United Church at 415 Linwell Rd in St Catharines.

11 November 2013

British Epidemics Timeline

The Keighley and District Family History Society website has reproduced a handy timeline of major disease events:

Wreath Honouring British Home Children to Be Laid at National War Memorial

The British Home Children and their descendants who joined the services will be remembered with a wreath to be laid at Canada's National War Memorial on Monday, November 11, 2013. This wreath honours the British Home Children and their descendants who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force as well as their descendants who chose to join the Canadian Military Services since that time. The wreath will be laid by a representative of the Ontario East British Home Child Family, Gloria Tubman.
Some British Home Children first placed in the Ottawa - St Lawrence Valley areas before enlisting in the CEF include: Claude J.P. Nunney # 410935 recipient of the Victoria Cross, William John Dominey # 1042925 died at Passchendale, Francis Foreman # 41020 injured in France in 1915 returned to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1919, Herbert Bretherton #639688 spent time in France with Canadian Labour Pool returned to Shawville, Quebec, Charles Reaper # 814924 survived Vimy Ridge died in 2003 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

10 November 2013

FTDNA sale now on

It's here, the annual end of year sale from Family Tree DNA.

Save $50 on a 37 marker Y-DNA test, $80 on a test for 67 markers.
Save $30 on a mtFullSequence test.
There's no sale of the $99 Family Finder (autosomal) test but a free $100 restaurant.com gift card, useful for your US trips.

There's also a sale on the newly introduced Big Y test until 1 December. It tests a large number (25,000) Y chromosome SNPs, of more interest for those wanting to contribute to research, rather than the typical genealogist. It has a price to match $495 until 1 Dec 2013, $695 thereafter.

Deceased Online adds London Borough of Sutton cemetery records

The following is from deceasedonline.com

Deceased Online has added all burial records for two cemeteries in the London Borough of Sutton in the south of the capital.
The two cemeteries are Sutton Cemetery (off Oldfields Rd) with records starting in1889 and Cuddington Cemetery (Worcester Park) with all records from 1902.
Burial register scans and grave details are immediately available and cemetery section maps for grave locations will be added soon.
All records for Merton & Sutton Joint Cemetery (aka Garth Road Cemetery) are already available on the website.
Records for Bandon Hill Cemetery (Wallington) will be added early in 2014.

7 Wiltshire records back online
All burial records for Wiltshire Council* in England’s Southwest have now been added to www.deceasedonline.com.
The data, which dates back to 1856, is from all 7 cemeteries managed by the Council. Further information on the website.

*These records were previously briefly available on Deceased Online in the spring of 2011 but were withdrawn for further enhancements.