31 January 2014

Deceasedonline completes Kensal Green database

All 330,000 records for Kensal Green Cemetery and West London Crematorium can now be searched on Deceased Online.
See the blog post here for details including well known people found in the records.

Beyond the Old Bailey Online: Archival Sources for Trials

A post which explores some of the most significant records from the late 18th century onwards, particularly records of the Central Criminal Court held at The National Archives, that can help to flesh out the story of any proceedings you find on The Old Bailey Online. Some of the record groups mentioned are: HO 16, HO 77, CRIM 1, CRIM 4, MEPO 3, HO 17, HO 18, HO 19, HO 12, PCOM 3, PCOM 6.

Read the article by Chris Barnes, Modern Domestic Records specialist at TNA, at http://goo.gl/4L0nIC

TNA podcast: News from FamilySearch

Sharon Hintze, Director of the London Family History Centre, a regular speaker at TNA, provides an update on FamilySearch. It is rapidly evolving, with new features and collections, and partnerships with commercial organisations.
The presentation starts with a discussion of the history and  raison d'etre for the LDS involvement with Family History which leads into discussing the website in its present incarnation. There is a reminder that only about 5% of holdings are online, and that percentage is decreasing as acquisition of new material outstrips the ability to place it online. I was surprised that the same applies to TNA holdings. If you're looking for pre-1857 probate records there's a hint about how to find out about the applicable source and possible access through the FamilySearch microfilm or other medium collection.
Hurrah! You can access audio AND the slides that went along with the presentation, given in mid-January, at  http://media.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php/news-familysearch/  The presentation runs 55 minutes, time well spent.

30 January 2014

British Library's WW1 website

As the centenary of the start of WW1 approaches websites are springing up like poppies in Flanders Fields. Supported by over 500 historical sources from across Europe, a new resource from the British Library examines key themes in the history of World War One, presents original source material, and over 50 newly-commissioned articles on how war affected people on different sides of the conflict.


Finding distant cousins using autosomal DNA

If you're close minded about anything new, so enamored with Y-DNA you can see no further, or get turned off by statistics you should probably leave this post right now.

If you'r still with me open up to the possibilities of autosomal DNA testing which, at its most elementary, allows you to confirm the biological reality of close relationships.
For more distant relationships the often quoted statistics, that with an autosomal test, on average, you have a 90% of matching a 3rd cousin, 50% for a 4th and 10% for a 5th cousin deter many from probing further.

Yet chances are you have substantial segments of DNA in common with more distant cousins, the probability is small but we have many more of such distant cousins. It's a matter of chance.

Kitty Cooper's Blog recently carried the story of her match, a bit under 10 cM on chromosome 16, with two people, 6th and 9th cousins. They were of Norwegian origin and she was fortunate enough to find the matches had good ancestral research.

Unfortunately while DNA provides the evidence, the clue that a connection exists and an idea of the closeness of the relationship, it's not exact. Kitty, who shows up as third to distant cousin on my 23andMe match list, points out in a post on the 23andMe Community that "any two Ashkenazi Jewish participants in the study shared about as much DNA as fourth or fifth cousins."

Maybe one day we'll be able to genetically engrave a family tree in our DNA to be passed along to descendants.

29 January 2014

Findmypast British in India collection

Findmypast has just published over 2.5 million records detailing the lives of the British in India from 1698 to 1947. The collection, released in partnership with the British Library, includes:

British India Office birth and baptism records 1698-1947
British India Office deaths and burials 1749-1947
Indian Office wills and probate records 1749-1957
India Office East India Company and Civil Service pensions 1749-1947
East India Company cadet papers
Applications for the civil service

The collection, name indexed with links to image originals, is available across the findmypast system including findmypast.com.

I'll be searching the collection for my lost relatives, the ones who just disappear from the UK and other online records. They can turn up in unexpected places as one of mine did a few years ago in US military files.

How much DNA do you share with your father's aunt's great-uncle's brother?

Its the type of question that now sends me to Wolfram Alpha. Go to www.wolframalpha.com/ and type in the query. The result is a diagram showing the relationship and a table including the information that the person may be a great great granduncle with a blood relationship fraction of 1/64 (1.5625%) or great great grandfather, 1/16 (6.25%).

I've written suggesting they add the average number of centimorgans to the table.

FreeBMD January update

The FreeBMD Database was updated on Saturday 25 January 2014 to contain 235,362,957 distinct records. Major additions of more than 5,000 entries this update are, for births 1940, 1943, 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964-70; for marriages 1952, 1962, 1964-69; for deaths 1967, 1969-71.

28 January 2014

Ancestry updates Surrey BMB collection

New records have been added to Ancesty's collection of baptism, marriage and burial records for Surrey, sourced from the Surrey History Centre.
Baptisms, 1813-1912 now has 750,387 records, up from 683,008
Marriages, 1754-1937 now has 600,741 records, up from 543,595
Burials, 1813-1987 now has 506,969 records, up from 458,787.

Canadian WW1 service files plans

"Unprecedented access to .. high-quality digital copies of the more than 650,000 (CEF) service files for free anytime and anywhere." That's the promise from Library and Archives Canada, with completion of the project, expected in 2015.
According to a release from LAC, Public Works and Government Services Canada will undertake the digitization. Each file contains, on average, 49 images, for a total of over 32,000,000 images or almost 617 terabytes of scanned information.
Not being able to handle the original documents will be a pity but that's understandable for the long term preservation with the collection permanently stored at LAC's Preservation Centre for future generations.
Digitization does mean that parts of the collection will be inaccessible for a while.
See the details of the initiative at http://goo.gl/R24Djf


At Saturday's OGS Ottawa Branch meeting Kyla Ubbink spoke about RetroReveal, a free online tool to uncover hidden text, see faded inks and photographs, and discover what may lie beneath.

To use it go to retroreveal.org, register for a free account and upload an image. Small images work best. You can crop an image after initial processing and resubmit. The program "transforms images from a standard RGB colorspace into a variety of other colorspaces", so it works best on colour images. I found a faded sepia photo of my great uncle, killed in WW1, was improved. Kyla recommended using the RetroReveal output  in conjunction with Photoshop, or other similar software.

Thanks to Paul Jones for a correction to the web address.

Is it the only way to go?

There can be few people who have contributed more to family history in Eastern Ontario than Mike More, and that likely goes for Ontario as a whole. If not for his family tragedy Mike would now be preparing to take over as President of the Ontario Genealogical Society.
On Sunday, in an opinion piece Serving Your Society on the OGS Ottawa Branch blog, Mike mentions that about a quarter of the jobs across OGS are unfilled; branches have closed for lack of leadership; there are important positions, including President and vice-President of OGS, open to be filled in May. Mike's article appeals for volunteers to fill these positions.
What's the alternative? According to the article "let our organizations fold and leave the hobby to the large commercial outfits ... "
Do you buy that those are the only two options? I don't. A variety of active healthy family history organizations exist. What are they doing right? Learn from them and be ready to make necessary major changes. That requires exceptional leadership and a willingness to recognize the need for major change by the voting members.
A healthy plant requires substantial pruning to thrive, not trimming around the edges which is my perhaps not totally informed perspective on what the OGS review has been. As they say, "Sacred cows make great Steaks."

See also At What Point Do You Stop Embracing Change

27 January 2014

Copyright chill

The lead article in the latest Mocavo news, by Michael J. Leclerc, is Copyright and the Oral Interview. It relates to recording interviews with relatives for family history purposes.
His advice, qualified as "the important thing," is "to ask every subject to sign a form giving you permission to use the recording any way you like."
I'm not sure if Mr Leclerc is a lawyer or if not where he got his legal advice. There are no references. Is this advice applicable just for the US?
I've been interviewed a few times for broadcast and only recall one occasion on which I was asked to sign a release. What's your experience?
Thanks to Marnie Mccall for the tip.

Lancashire BMD update

With all the action at the big commercial websites it's easy to overlook the non-commercial data sites. Lancashire BMD at www.lancashirebmd.org.uk has just added 3,793 Marriages for Blackpool RD from the 1960s to 2012:
Bispham, All Hallows (1984-2004)
Blackpool, Christ Church with All Saints (1966-1989)
Blackpool, St.Paul (1976-1992)
Blackpool, St.Stephen (1985-2009)
Blackpool, St.Thomas (1979-2003)
Blackpool, St.Paul, Marton (1983-2012)
Blackpool, Holy Trinity, South Shore (1983-1991)
Blackpool, St.Peter, South Shore (1985-1991)
Blackpool, St.Mary, South Shore (1983-1998)
Blackpool, Holy Cross, South Shore (1988-1999)
Blackpool, St.Nicholas, Marton Moss (1969-1996)
Blackpool, St.Christopher, Hawes Side (1991-2011)

26 January 2014

The music of the genes

Mark A Jobling from the University of Leicester has published a comment in Investigative Genetics.

The music of the genes

The most famous of musical dynasties is that of the Bachs. In Leipzig for a conference, I visited the Bach Museum opposite the Thomaskirche where the greatest Bach of all worked as Kapellmeister for 27 years, and is now buried. There, the family’s many names are laid out on a wall, from Johann Sebastian’s great-great-grandfather Veit, a miller and player of the cittern, born around 1550, via J.S. himself, and on to his grandson Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst. One by one, the names light up, and as each Bach is illuminated his music fills the air.

The occurrence of so many great musicians in seven generations of one family might suggest musical ability in the genes. Francis Galton, in his Hereditary Genius[1], studied musicians alongside judges, statesmen, scientists, commanders, authors, poets and artists, as one of his classes of ‘eminent men’ (note, no women). As well as these brainy and artistic types, he cast wrestlers and rowers into the mix, too. Galton investigated the pattern of inheritance of exceptional ability within families, showing that the eminence of relatives of an eminent man declined with the degree of relatedness, and taking this as evidence of heritability.

There are two difficulties with Galton’s approach to musical ability - the phenotype (general eminence) is complex and vaguely defined, and the influence of the environment is not accounted for. In the Bach family, for example, musical training at a young age was the norm, and clearly led to a good living, so alternative careers were not necessarily high on the agenda.

Modern geneticists have also been interested in questions of musical inheritance, and have mostly focused on a simpler phenotype, absolute pitch (AP) - the ability to instantly recognize and correctly name the pitch of any of about seventy different notes in the middle of the auditory range. The phenotype is generally rare, and found in only approximately 1% to 2% of music students and musical professionals, so is far from being a proxy for musicianship. Clearly, AP requires some prior exposure to notes and their names, and an ability to fix and recall these associations. Oliver Sacks, in a chapter of his book Musicophilia[2] entitled ‘Papa Blows his Nose in G’, points out that the real wonder of AP is that for people who possess it, each tone has its own unique characteristic (for example, F-sharp-ness), which to them is often analogous to colour. Indeed, some composers, including Scriabin and Messiaen, explicitly linked notes and colours, possible examples of synesthesia, in which one kind of sensory stimulus evokes another.

AP is a complex trait, involving both genetic and environmental factors: musical training during early development contributes to its acquisition, and it is more frequent in Asians than Europeans, a finding that some have attributed to early exposure to languages in which tone is particularly important. Genome-wide linkage analysis [3] in families showing both AP and synesthesia highlighted a shared region on chromosome 6, supporting the relationship between these phenotypes. Subsequent sequencing of candidate genes revealed otherwise rare amino-acid-changing variants in affected members of four families in EPHA7, a gene encoding a member of a family of cell-surface-bound receptor tyrosine kinases that may play an important role in neural differentiation and connectivity in the developing brain.

One particular genetically defined group appears to exhibit a high natural ability for music. These are people with Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS [4]). Carrying a 1.5- to 1.8-Mb deletion on the long arm of chromosome 7 that removes 26 to 28 genes, subjects suffer from a constellation of abnormalities, with a mean IQ of 55, and severe difficulties in spatial tasks such as solving jigsaw puzzles. However, there are compensating strengths in musical ability, with many showing skill in singing or playing instruments. There is disagreement about the incidence of absolute pitch in WBS: in a study by neuroscientist Howard Lenhoff [5], five young WBS subjects all had AP, but a more recent larger study has failed to find a convincing association [6]. Lenhoff’s own daughter, Gloria, has WBS and is a musical savant, singing almost 2,000 songs in many languages from memory, and performing with renowned orchestras.

As well as phenotypes that enhance musical abilities, there are some that do the opposite. Congenital amusia (or tone deafness) is the failure to acquire the perception and recognition of music, despite having normal hearing, language, and intelligence. One patient seen by Sacks [2] could not recognize ‘Happy Birthday to You’, even though, as a school-teacher, she was obliged to play a recording of it at least 30 times a year. To her, the sound of music was ‘like pots and pans being thrown on the floor’. Family studies [7] show a genetic component, since 39% of first-degree relatives of subjects have amusia, compared to a population frequency of about 4%, but no gene hunts have yet been undertaken.

Setting aside these unfortunate tone-deaf cases, music is a cultural universal, and findings of prehistoric bone flutes in southern Germany show that humans have been making sophisticated music for at least 42,000 years [8,9]. But what is it all for? Darwin believed that music evolved through sexual selection; by analogy with birds and their songs, the creation and appreciation of music was part of the complex process of attracting the opposite sex. ‘Music has a wonderful power … of recalling in a vague and indefinite manner, those strong emotions which were felt during long-past ages, when, as is probable, our early progenitors courted each other by the aid of vocal tones’ [10]. In Darwin’s opinion, language came after music. Herbert Spencer disagreed, claiming that music arose naturally from the cadences used in emotional speech. In modern times, Steven Pinker [11] has sided with Spencer, arguing that music is simply a useless byproduct of language (‘auditory cheesecake’). Steven Mithen [12], however, believes that music is too different from language to be a byproduct, and that its emotional power indicates a long and important evolutionary history. A consensus seems unlikely to emerge any time soon.

The Leipzig conference in which I participated was concerned with language, and I learned that linguists disagree violently about some fundamental aspects of what modern languages can tell us about populations in the distant past. Funnily enough, music might help here. Analysing characters such as rhythm, pitch and dynamics in traditional vocal songs from nine indigenous populations of Thailand [13] allows a music-based distance measure to be calculated between them. Comparison of this to analogous distances based on languages and genetics (using maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA) shows that music is a better fit to genetics than language is. Likewise, a geographically broader study of Eurasian populations [14] shows that high musical similarity predicts high genetic similarity, and that the relationship is stronger for maternal than for paternal lineages.

Perhaps, then, musicology could replace historical linguistics as a tool to find cultural connections that reflect deep shared ancestry - the language changes, but (like the legacy of Bach) the melody lingers on. Mothers sing to their babies, after all.

Reproduced from Investigative Genetics 2014, 5:2 under a Creative Commons Attribution License. The electronic version of this article, which includes references, can be found online at: http://www.investigativegenetics.com/content/5/1/2


An interesting story An ‘Antique Smith’ Burns forgery in Ayr Carnegie Library

Thanks to Brenda Turner for the tip.

25 January 2014

Australia Day

Happy Australia Day. Enjoy your barbies and be grateful you don't have to huddle around it for warmth as anyone foolish enough to stay outside in Ottawa's weather long enough to cook a steak would today.
Access to Ancestry Australian records is free for this weekend and will last until 27 January. http://goo.gl/u5jl0S

Ancestry updates Dorset electoral registers

Ancestry's collection Dorset, England, Electoral Registers, 1839-1922 now has 1,584,958 entries.

Immigrants to Canada 1930-1950

A new website, a private commercial initiative, is now online with names contained in Orders in Council of the Privy Council of Canada for the years between 1930 and 1950. The names are in free browse lists which show names of immigrants approved to come to Canada as well as the people in Canada sponsoring them.
Those of British or Irish origin were exempt from the regulations requiring notice in the Orders in Council. I found a man who was an Emeritus Professor at a university I attended. There's a contact address to purchase additional information about the immigrant:

Family name and first name
Ethnic or religious identification
Intended occupation in Canada

Normally also show is the following information about the sponsor of the immigrant:

First name and family name
City in Canada where they are living
Relationship to the immigrant
If they are Naturalized and when that occurred
How long they have been in Canada
Their occupation and financial situation

Find the site at www.orderincouncillists.com/

Thanks to Glenn Wright for the tip.

24 January 2014

Phishing Alert

Wikipedia defines phishing as the act of attempting to acquire information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money) by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.
In the past 24 hours I've received two three such attacks, by way of emails purportedly from known genealogy contacts, containing a link to click. In both cases I was tempted but resisted. Phishing attempts can almost always be recognized by their generic nature as well as the request to click a link. Legitimate e-mail messages usually contain information to which phishers would not have access. If in doubt don't click the link. Contact the person from whom the communication is from to verify the authenticity.

Plymouth and West Devon, Parish Registers on ANcestry

England, Select Plymouth and West Devon, Parish Registers, 1538-1912, with
1,399,454 records is yet another addition at Ancestry from the FamilySearch collection.

SCGS Jamboree

The Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree, one of the major US genealogical conferences, is one I attended in 2010 and enjoyed.
I'm very seriously considering going again this year. This logo is a tad more definitive than I can say right now but its highly likely I'll be there. As I'm not attending RootsTech or WDYTYA Live, and the OGS conference will be busy with a workshop, a presentation and chairing a panel session, this would be an event where I could relax and learn.
A significant attraction for me is the full day of DNA presentations  from top speakers the day before the Jamboree officially gets underway.
Find out about the Jamboree at http://genealogyjamboree.com/ and the DNA day at http://www.scgsgenealogy.com/Jamboree/2014/DNAday.htm

Thanks to Susan Gingras for the tip.

23 January 2014

Changes at FindMyPast

Being a Brit with almost my entire known ancestry in the UK, as well as a Canadian, I have a soft spot for British genealogical organisations. I relish the innovation-leadership of TNA.

But what's happened to FindMyPast? It seems, compared to the competition, specifically Ancestry, FMP is getting left behind.

Its reflected in the rankings recently published by GenealogyInTime; The FMP UK (.co.uk) site ranked 18th globally among genealogy sites, down from 14th a year ago. That's very respectable but going the wrong way. Even just focusing on the UK, FMP Alexa ranked 1,234th out of all websites while Ancestry Alexa ranked 355th. Globally the US (.com) site ranked 59th among genealogy sites, down from 48th; Genes Reunited fell from 24th to 30th. FMP has a long way to go to catch up with North American records, with only a small amount of Canadian content, not even the census!

On the plus side there are associated sites in the larger D C Thomson group. Scotlands People climbed from 53rd to 48th. It has a virtual stranglehold on Scottish records. The British Newspaper Archive, with a unique agreement with the British Library, climbed from 68th to 57th.
It all goes to show that content is king and having unique content is a winning formula. Duh! If it weren't for the access to British newspapers I'd probably drop my FMP subscription.

That's by way of prelude to information on changes coming to FMP, perhaps just the UK (.co.uk) version. You can read about the plans at http://www.findmypast.co.uk/new-version-of-fmp-coming-soon. They are:

- a new technology platform
- new family tree builder
- improved search
- new records every month
- new website design
Along with the announcement there was also a post on the company blog Findmypast product update – Opening a dialogue with news of "a new tool, the findmypast Feedback Forum. The forum will allow you to share your thoughts and ideas about the site with us, as well as with other members of the findmypast community." On the forum you can suggest improvements and vote on those already suggested you'd like to see implemented.

Middlesex Appeals against First World War conscription

The (UK) National Archives is making the digitised records of over 8,000 individuals seeking exemption from conscription into the army in Middlesex during the First World War available online.
Men asked for exemption on medical, family or economic grounds, or as conscientious objectors.
Here's an example. A search for Reid found Evelyn John Reid of Station Yard, Twickenham. Occupation: Coal Merchant and Depot Manager, who appealed on the grounds that:

- serious hardship would ensure if the man were called up for Army service, owing to his exceptional financial or business obligations or domestic position.
- the principal and usual occupation of the man is one of those included in the list of occupations certified by Government Departments for exemption.
You have to order the original document images through TNA's Discovery system, even though there is no charge - for the next ten years. It takes about a minute to process the order, then you can download the original images in pdf.

The documents show he was granted a temporary, 4 month, exemption. Other documents show he did serve, received two war medals and lived until 1963.

OGS Ottawa Branch Monthly Meeting

Saturday January 25, 2014, 1pm – 3pm
City of Ottawa Archives, Room 115

1:00-1:30:  Networking - tea, coffee, cookies
1:30-2:15:  "Using the Almonte Gazette online database" (Matthew Moxley)
2:15-3:00:  "RetroReveal for Genealogists, a Digital Forensics Tool"  (Kyla Ubbink)

Using the Almonte Gazette online database
Matthew Moxley of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum will be talking to us about the Almonte Gazette digitization project and showing us how to use the free 'Almonte Gazette -Online!' database. The Almonte Gazette has been an integral part of the town’s history and its contents can now be mined online for everything from council meetings to genealogical confirmation of births, deaths and marriages within the community and environ

RetroReveal for Genealogists, a Digital Forensics Tool
Using RetroReveal to uncover hidden text, see faded inks and photographs, and discover what may lie beneath, is as simple as taking a picture and uploading the image to this free online software. Getting the most out of it takes as little know-how and practice, but after a demonstration and a few handy pointers you will be hooked on this program and finding your own creative ways to reveal what was thought lost.

22 January 2014

Toronto cemeteries

A neat graphic from the National Pest Post showing the locations and burial statistics (1.25 million interments) for Toronto cemeteries, http://goo.gl/wsxzI8

Just across the border

In Eastern Ontario we often don't think about genealogical activity just south of the St Lawrence River. Yet for some of this blog's readers the St. Lawrence Valley Genealogical Society, which meets in Canton, NY, may well be closer than any other meeting location.
When the topic of the meeting isn't geographically specific why not take advantage? On Saturday January 25th at 10 a.m. the Society will meet at the St. Lawrence County Historical Society, 3 East Main St. in Canton. Norm Young will discuss Roots Magic, the genealogy software program and Marcia Eggleston will discuss Family Tree Maker.

21 January 2014

Irish marriage records from FamilySearch on Ancestry

Another product of the Ancestry/FamilySearch cooperation announced some months ago is FamilySearch's Ireland, Select Marriages, 1619-1898 with 1,473,590 records now also available on Ancestry.

FamilySearch British records on Ancestry

It look s like the Ancestry/FamilySearch cooperation agreement announced some months ago is now in operation. A massive number of British records of various types sourced from FamilySearch are now available to Ancestry subscribers. While you will likely already have searched them at FamilySearch, and can still do so, having them directly integrated into Ancestry enhances its one-stop search.

Isle of Man, Select Parish Registers, 1598-1950: 889,603 records
Isle of Man, Select Marriages, 1849–1911: 104,318 records
Scotland, Select Marriages, 1561-1910: 4,294,285 records
Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950: 26,765,890 records
England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975: 192,725,313 records
England, Select Marriages, 1538–1973: 38,710,192 records
England, Select Cheshire Non-conformist Records: 1671-1900, 532,788 records
Cheshire, England, Select Parish Registers, 1538-2000: 9,433,438 records
England, Select Dorset Parish Registers, 1538-1910: 960,001 records
England, Select Norfolk Parish Registers, 1538-1900: 446,441 records
England, Select Bristol Parish Registers, 1538-1900: 2,414,712 records
England, Select Cheshire Workhouse Records, 1848-1967: 117,104 records
England, Select Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991: 19,695,783 records
England, Select Derbyshire, Church of England Parish Registers, 1538-1910: 3,309,988 records
England, Select Essex Parish Registers, 1538-1900: 1,181,778 records
Wales, Select Glamorgan, Parish Register Marriages, 1837-1922: 201,770 records
Great Britain, Select Births and Baptisms, 1571-1977: 62,126 records
Great Britain, Select Deaths and Burials, 1778-1988: 70,398 records
Wales, Select Deaths and Burials, 1586-1885: 1,315 records
England, Select Cheshire, School Records, 1796-1950: 728,083 records
Select Merchant Navy Seamen Records, 1835-1941: 2,607,986 records

Churches of East Anglia

Often when you visit a community where your ancestors lived the only physical connection you'll find is the church they attended, where they were baptised, married and buried. If you're fortunate there may be a tombstone.

Those with connections to Essex, Norfolk or Suffolk can visit many of the counties' churches virtually via the Churches of East Anglia site, or more accurately sites.

Churches of Norfolk covers some 880 churches with photographs of significant features and a detailed description reminiscent of a modern day Mee's King's England.

Churches of Suffolk is the original site, gradually being revised, with 693 churches.

Churches of Essex is a Flickr collection with over 240 churches with between one and 76 photos from each.

These are the work of Simon Knott of Ipswich and collaborators. You may be interested in his genealogy pages, four hundred photographs of Ipswich Old Cemetery on Flickr and more.

Observations from the Archives Summit

On Friday I and two other BIFHSGO members, Anne Sterling and Brenda Turner, participated in Canada's Archives Summit, albeit remotely at the City of Ottawa Main Archives. We were one of 80 remote sites, more than the 50 site capacity on the system and many more than the 30 sites registered.
BIFHSGO members Glenn Wright and Lesley Anderson were at the event in Toronto. If you know of other family historians who participated at a remote site please let me know.
We spent the morning listening to presentations from Toronto. The program is at http://archivists.ca/sites/default/files/Attachments/Advocacy_attachments/summit_program.pdf
There is far too much material to attempt to summarize. Some observations:
1. As Eisenhower said "plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." The interaction among participants will likely be more valuable than the formal results.
2. Ian Wilson showed that despite have been retired for several years he is still a strong community leader.
3. Twitter was very active with #archivesummit trending.
4. A background paper in the name of Hervé Déry, interim Librarian and Archivist of Canada, mentioned that LAC has had 1.5 million hits on Flickr. It was noted on Twitter that the Deseronto Archives had 1.1 million nits in same period. Quoting a big number doesn't cut it unless given some context. Need benchmarking. How do LAC's peer organizations, such as TNA, compare, especially the best performing?
5. I particularly enjoyed the presentation by Deborah Morrison from Canada's History and Craig Heron from York University. Texts of all presentations should be available shortly, likely through archivists.ca.
6. Bill Waiser from the University of Saskatchewan gave a strong presentation. He was one of several, including Ann Cavoukian, Information Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, who mentioned that access to government records is at the heart of government accountability. He also mentioned the need to revisit the opt-in provision for Canadian censuses "as required by law after two censuses (2016 and 2011)". Although I recall that being discussed I was unable to locate the legal requirement in the Statistics Canada Act which is where the amendments regarding the census were embedded.

In the afternoon the folks in Toronto broke into groups to discuss issues. Some of their reports are at https://t.co/gqSfnmdwVI

Carleton University Library steps up

As genealogists we find resources in some of the most unlikely places. I've used the libraries of the Agriculture and the Natural Resources departments.
This poster documents the rescue efforts of Carleton University Library to save parts of collections of Canada's federal department libraries being eliminated. It also shows collections that are of unknown status, dispersed elsewhere or in jeopardy. Other department library collections are being eliminated according to news reports.
While the government is intent on slaying the federal economic deficit other types of deficit, provincial, infrastructure and knowledge to name three, are accumulating.

Read these 28 Beautiful Quotes About Libraries, via Stephen's Lighthouse.

20 January 2014

Nova Scotia church records 1720-2001 on FamilySearch

Page images of Nova Scotia church records, both Catholic and Church of England in Canada, are now online at FamilySearch, https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1925428
There are a total of 16,188 images for the following county/town/church:

Annapolis: Granville Cente: Church of England in Canada All Saints
Cape Breton: Sydney: Church of England in Canada St George
Chester: Chester: Church of England in Canada St Stephen
Colchester: Londonderry: Catholic St Thomas More
Colchester: Truro: Catholic Immaculate Conception
Colchester: Truro: Church of England in Canada St Paul
Colchester and Cumberland: Various: Catholic St Thomas More
Cumberland: Amherst: Catholic St Charles Borromeo
Cumberland: Digby: Church of England in Canada Trinity Church
Cumberland: Joggins: Catholic St Thomas Aquinas
Cumberland: Parrsboro: Catholic St Brigid
Cumberland: Springhill: Catholic St John and Catholic St John the Baptist
Digby: Digby: Church of England in Canada Trinity Church
Halifax: Dartmouth: Catholic St Peter
Halifax: East Chezzetcook: Catholic St Genevieve
Halifax: Halifax: Catholic, St Agnes, St Joseph, St Joseph's Orphanage, St Mary's Basilica, St Patrick, St Patrick's home, St Peter, St Thomas Aquinas
Halifax: Herring Cove: Catholic St Paul
Halifax: Ketch Harbour: Catholic St Peter
Halifax: Prospect: Catholic Our Lady of Mt Carmel, St Joseph
Halifax: Sheet Harbour: Catholic St Peter
Halifax: West Chezzetcook: Catholic St Anselme
Halifax and Hants: Enfield: Catholic St Bernard
Hants: Enfield: Catholic St Bernard
Hants, Windsor: Catholic St John the Evangelist
Kings: Cornwallis Square: Church of England in Canada St John
Lunenburg: Bridgewater: Catholic St Joseph
Lunenburg: Dalhousie: Catholic St Joseph
Queens: Caledonia: Catholic St Joseph
Queens: Liverpool: Catholic St Gregory
Queens: Liverpool, West Caledonia: Catholic St Gregory and St Jerome

Gene-O-Rama 2014

A reminder that OGS Ottawa Branch's premier event is back for 2014 with Jane MacNamara as featured speaker. It's coming up fast, on 21-22 March. I'd better get working on my presentation!

Complete information and registration at http://ogsottawa.on.ca/gene-o-rama/

19 January 2014

Nova Scotia, Queens County, Notes of Thomas Brenton Smith, 1700-1950

Now at FamilySearch, Nova Scotia, Queens County, Notes of Thomas Brenton Smith, 1700-1950
A browse file of 30,314 images containing genealogical notes (extracted from local newspapers and other sources) on about 1700 Queens County, Nova Scotia families. It covers the 1700's to the 1950's. The files are arranged alphabetically by surname. Within the files, the papers are arranged alphabetically by given name.

FamilySearch adds England, Dorset, Parish Registers, 1538-1936

An index of 447,092 Dorset parish registers from 1538-1936 sourced from the "Church of England. Record Office, Dorchester."

AFHS seminar with Dave Obee

On April 5, 2014, the Alberta Family Histories Society will host a day-long seminar with Dave Obee at which he will give four presentations on Genealogy in Canada. That's between his speaking engagements at RootsTech and the OGS Conference.

Dave will speak about immigration to Canada (Destination Canada), online sources and resources for information (Canadian Genealogy on the Internet), information on the censuses (Mining the Canadian Census) and the experiences, at home and abroad, of Canadians in the First World War.

Family historians from anywhere and everywhere are welcome.

The event will be held at the Sheraton Cavalier Hotel in Calgary. The cost, $35 per person, is reduced to $30 each for two people from the same immediate family who register before 1 February.

More information is available on the Society’s website at http://afhs.ab.ca/familyroots

Thanks to Wayne Shepheard for the tip.

18 January 2014

Top 100 genealogy sites

GenealogyInTime online magazine are out with their list of top 100 genealogy websites. This is the third year its been compiled, a lot of work so we can have a clear picture of the field. It includes all kinds of strictly genealogy sites, pay and free.

Knowing what to include is tricky. Sites of broader scope, such as archives and libraries, utility sites like Google and social media sites like Facebook, don't get ranked. We know that a large proportion of the visitors to archives, and likely to their websites, do so in pursuit of their family history. That's why you'll often see those in top sites for genealogy lists, but not in this compilation.

Sites like newspaperarchive and newspapers.com are included in the ranking although they could well be visited by non-genealogists.

In the final analysis the decision on what to include is a matter of good judgement.

The top ten ranked sites are:

1 Ancestry.com
2 Find A Grave
3 FamilySearch
4 MyHeritage.com
5 Geni.com
6 Ancestry.co.uk
7 GeneaNet
8 Archives.com
9 Genealogy.com

There's a complete list and discussion of the results at http://goo.gl/0qnPZf

In case you're interested, Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections ranked 63rd, a considerable jump from last year. I suspect it includes visits to the .ca, .com and other national flavours of blogspot. The high ranking is thanks to you, and everyone else who visited, and especially those who contributed tips.

Ancestry adds Nova Scotia, Canada, Census, Assessment and Poll Tax Records, 1770-1795, 1827

Just 22,268 records are in this collection sourced from the Nova Scotia Archives and now available through Ancestry.ca


Digital images of original census records for 1827 give "the number of males and females in the family; number of hired labourers or male servants employed; whether engaged in agriculture, manufacturing, or commerce; religion; number of family members who were born, buried or died in the census year; number of acres cultivated; and agricultural statistics (amount of crops grown and number of livestock owned).

Nova Scotia Poll Tax Rolls, 1791–1793. 
In 1791 in an effort to pay down the provincial debt, the Nova Scotia legislature placed a poll tax on all adult males. The amount of the tax depended on a person’s occupation and livestock owned, and legislation was amended over the years until the tax’s repeal in 1796. (One such amendment can be found on the Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management website.) This collection includes an index for the years 1791–1793, and results are linked to images of the records on the Nova Scotia Archives website. The index includes the name and location for each person. Records in this collection are from the following counties:

Tax Records
Among the original records in this collection are tax-related records from the Gideon White Family Papers. Gideon White was a loyalist from Massachusetts who moved to Shelburne, Nova Scotia, during the American Revolution. He served as tax collector for a time, and tax records for the years 1786–1787 are included in the collection. They provide names and addresses of Shelburne taxpayers, occupations, and county and poor taxes owed."

TNA webinar with Audrey Collins

A reminder that on Monday, 20 January 2014 at 9 am EST Audrey Collins will be presenting the first in a series on monthly webinars from The (UK) National Archives.
This webinar will look at how to conduct searches, using keywords, filters and other useful features of TNA's Discovery portal to The National Archives' holdings, both digitised and original records.
There's more information, and details on how to register in advance, at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/webinars.htm

17 January 2014

Ancestral super-ghosts - will you be one?

populations By Simon Gravel and Mike Steel just appeared in the e-print collection arXiv.
It points out that there can be people who are the genealogical ancestor of at least one individual at the present but contribute nothing genetically to any individual at the present. These they call ghosts. 
People who are the genealogical ancestor of all individuals at the present but contribute nothing genetically to any individual at the present they call super-ghosts.
Using a combination of simplified models, which I couldn't follow in detail, they show that approximately 0:5% of us will be super ghosts 100 generations from now. 

Ancestry updates 1861 England Census

If you've previously had no luck finding an ancestor you expected to be in the 1861 England Census consider trying again. Ancestry.co.uk now claim 18,450,707 records in that database.

1921 census petition

Alison Leedham emailed to inform me of an e-petition available for signature advocating release of the 1921 census in advance of the time-frame according to the 100 year rule. I've not heard of any adverse reaction to the release of the Canadian 1921 census last year, nor come to that the 1940 US census in 2012.

16 January 2014

90 schools now in Toronto war memorials database

The following is a note from Gwyneth Pearce of OGS Toronto Branch

Volunteers with the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society have added about 3,000 new names since the fall of 2013 to For King and Country – the growing online Branch database of school memorials commemorating Toronto students and staff who volunteered for active service in the two World Wars and other military conflicts. 

This searchable collection now contains 90 schools and more than 35,000 names, with transcriptions and photographs of school war memorials, along with historical background and links to other useful school and community websites. 
The newest schools in the database are Oakridge Public School and Danforth Technical School. Danforth Tech holds the distinction of being the alma mater of a staggering 2,235 volunteers—students, graduates, teachers and other staff—more than any other school in the British Commonwealth—and it maintains an impressive archive of records, housed in its War Memorial Library. 
Explore For King and Country now at www.torontofamilyhistory.org/kingandcountry/, and contact co-ordinator Martha Jackson at kingandcountry@torontofamilyhistory.org if you would like to get involved with this project.

The origins of genealogy and ancestry

Linguistics, the scientific study of language, is a tool employed in the study of migration. In English we infer the origins of someone we meet who refers to a lorry or truck, car boot or trunk, bonnet or hood, windshield or windscreen, eggplant or aubergine.
The Guardian has an article pointing to an Interactive European language map. Enter the English word and see what the equivalent is in various European languages plotted on a map.Here are a few of genealogical significance.

Try it yourself at http://goo.gl/CAsXkV

The Guardian has more in an earlier article at http://goo.gl/EGu0bW

Making more of Autosomal DNA

Kimberly Powell from genealogy.about.com posted on Triangulation: Making More of Autosomal DNA, a collection of half a dozen tools and explanations for those struggling to understand their Family Finder and other company's autosomal DNA test results.

OGS Kingston Branch January Meeting

On Saturday, January 18, 2014 at 10 a.m. Jane MacNamara will speak about Inheritance in Ontario: Estate Files and Beyond.

"Ontario researchers looking for records of inheritance usually stop once they've found the estate file. True, it is the richest single source, but the court register, minutes, and other documents that track the estate's progress through the court can add valuable family history clues and help tell the whole story. The presentation will review how to find an estate file and how it can lead to other sources both inside and outside the court system."
The Kingston Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society meets in the Wilson Room of Kingston Frontenac Public Library, 130 Johnson St.

15 January 2014

TNA podcast: Hidden treasures? Uncovering maps among the files of government

This is a podcast I wish I could recommend. The speaker, Andrew Janes, is clearly knowledgeable on the maps in the TNA collection. The people who attended the presentation in December were fortunate.


The key visuals are not available, so with the audio its a bit like having music or art described without being able to hear or see it -- a much impoverished experience.

Andrew Janes appears to be speaking very quickly, hardly pausing for breath. I even wondered if the audio had been processed to speed up the presentation and eliminate silences longer than a few milliseconds. When combined with a fairly pronounced accent following along becomes a trial.

You can listen from http://goo.gl/mhYJfo

Reminder: Canadian Archives Summit

Our family history/genealogy community represents the majority of users of archives. We expect archives to put out the welcome mat for us and be sensitive to our needs. But there is a reciprocal obligation. We need to be there for them, ready to support and interact.  

A reminder that on Friday, January 17, there's an opportunity to do just that when the Canadian Archives Summit: Towards a New Blueprint for Canada's Recorded Memory will be streamed online, 8:30 – 5:00 EST. 

The Summit will be broadcast live to locations across Canada. The most recent list of remote locations is at: http://archivists.ca/sites/default/files/Attachments/Advocacy_attachments/preliminarylist.cas_regional_sites.pdf

All genealogical and family history societies can show support for their local archives by having a representative in attendance. You don't need to be excessively vocal, as they say 80% of success is simply showing up.

In Ottawa come to the main City Archives at 100 Tallwood. Reservations to John D. Lund, Archivist, Digital Records at 613-580-2424, ext. 13684 would be appreciated.

The most recent version of the program is available at:

Thought Leader papers are available at:

The Summit hashtag is: #archivesummit.

Quinte Branch: The Crouse-Wanamaker Lecture

Saturday, January 18 is the date for the Quinte OGS Branch annual Crouse-Wanamaker Lecture, this year What's Beneath Your Feet? by Orland French
"Orland French is a writer and publisher from Belleville who felt he wanted to do the definitive book on what lies under Prince Edward County. This past summer he and his wife Sylvia published a book titled Wind, Water, Barley & Wine that examines the role of geology in the development and settlement of The County. It follows previous similar books on Hastings County and Lennox & Addington County.
Orland is a former journalist and reporter with daily publications such as The Kingston Whig-Standard, The Ottawa Citizen and The Globe and Mail. At the Whig-Standard he was sometimes assigned to stories in the County and he would return to the Kingston newsroom, wondering “what’s really going on down there? Someday I’ll find out.”
He runs a small publishing company called Wallbridge House Publishing that produces history books out of a house which, sure enough, was once owned by the Wallbridge family. He is currently working on a First World War history book based on letters from his Uncle Oscar who was killed at Vimy Ridge. Last fall he and his wife visited northern France and found his uncle’s grave in a military cemetery."

As usual the meeting starts at 1 pm at Quinte West City Hall Library, 7 Creswell Drive, Trenton, Ontario

14 January 2014

Operation War Diary

Operation War Diary, a British historical crowdsourcing project, is now online,With the cooperation of The National Archives, the IWM (Imperial War Museum) and "citizen historians" through the Zooniverse community pages from British WW1 war diaries are being classified and tagged for significant content.

There are 95 diaries available with from less than 10 to over 800 pages each. Although only just opened for input rapid progress is being made on some of the diaries.

You may also be interested in the UK Lives of the First World War project.

Gerald Neville R. I. P.

Sadly the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa lost another founding member with the death last Friday of Gerry Neville. Health reasons forced him to resign from the Board and as first Vice-President (Publishing) after the Society's first year. He was most recently in attendance at the Friday evening session of last September's BIFHSGO conference.

Born in Shannon, Quebec in 1948 Gerry came to Ottawa to study at the University of Ottawa and stayed to work with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the National Research Council. He leaves a brother Donny and several cousins in Shannon.

He was described by friends as a quiet person always willing to assist a new Irish researcher and; a most kind, generous and happy person always willing to help, and with exceptional genealogical knowledge .

His genealogical publications include:

Index of baptisms : Ste-Catherine, co. Portneuf, Quebec, 1832-1860 and St-Gabriel-de-Valcartier, co. Quebec, Quebec, 1843-1860 with supplementary church register entries; published 1991

The Lanark Society settlers : ships' lists of the Glasgow Emigration Society, 1821; published 1995.

Church of England parish register of North Clarendon Thorne, Pontiac County, Québec, 1864-1916 / with Gloria F. Tubman; published 1997.

Church of England parish register of North Clarendon district, 1864-1873 / transcribed with Gloria F. Tubman published 1997.

Thanks to Maureen Maher and Gloria Tubman for information.

Better in England or the colonies?

The BBC have a short video (appears to need flash) as part of the post at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-25487329. Australia or jail - which was worse?
is the question being addressed, amongst others, for British criminals convicted at the Old Bailey in the 18th and 19th Centuries. "Historians are examining the court records of every person convicted at the London courthouse between 1785 and 1875. They will then assess how many of those jailed in Britain reoffended and assess immigration records in Tasmania - where many convicts were sent - as well as biometric data and genealogical research."

Could the same approach be applied to a similar question, were "orphan" children in Britain better off in the long run remaining there or emigrating to Canada as home children? Unfortunately the approach to this question is presently anecdotal; advocates on either side, often descendants of home children who had positive or negative experiences, cast more heat than light on the question.

13 January 2014

New York records on Ancestry

Even though its outside my normal area of interest, New York is such an international city its worth mentioning the BMD indexes just added by Ancestry.com. These provide the information needed to order a certificate.

New York, New York, Birth Index, 1878-1909: 772,703 records
New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1948: 4,716,858 records
New York, New York, Marriage Indexes 1866-1937: 5,065,035 records

Two state censuses have also been added, and these do include images of the originals

New York, State Census, 1875: 3,122,735 records
New York, State Census, 1855: 2,740,414 records

Ottawa genealogy courses and workshops

Here is the schedule of genealogy courses and workshops being offered through the Ottawa Catholic School Board by Lesley Anderson.

Genealogy – Level 2
We continue on our quest to find our ancestors… This course will discuss: Review of Level 1 Resources, Passenger Lists, Online Family Trees, Military Records and Other Records. We will concentrate on using the Ancestry.ca website and other Internet resources. One class will be taken up with a field trip.    
8 Weeks, 7:00 pm-9:00 pm    $110 + HST
Holy Trinity              Wed   Start Jan 29 (19000)

Genealogy – Level 1
Come and rattle those bones in your family tree! This is a fun 8-week course on how to get started using both online computer resources and offline community resources. We will concentrate on using Ancestry’s genealogical databases and other Internet websites. We will be discussing: Getting Organized, Good Genealogy Websites, Civil Registration, Parish Records and Census Records. Two classes will be spent on field trips.
8 Weeks, 7:00 pm-9:00 pm    $110 + HST
Holy Trinity              Wed   Start Apr 16 (29000)

Searching Effectively on Ancestry
This workshop will provide an overview of Ancestry. Topics include: getting started, membership/logging in; customizing your home page; quick links and message boards; shoebox; keywords; card catalog; viewing, printing and saving images; Ancestry Member Connect; what’s new and where to find help! We’ll also look at the various searches: global search, category search and websearch, as well as the different search options: exact matches, variations and wildcards. Note: participants will have access to Ancestry.ca/World Deluxe. They will also have to bring a memory stick to class as well as their research info (i.e. family group sheets or pedigree charts) in order to conduct searches in class.
Workshop, 9:00 am-12:00 pm $25 + HST
St. Pius X                  Sat      Jan 25       (19002)

Workshop, 9:00 am-12:00 pm $25 + HST
St. Pius X                  Sat      Apr 26       (29002)

Starting your Online Family Tree  
The workshop will cover the following: managing your online tree (privacy settings, inviting others & viewing); profile pages; tree hints – auto searching; attaching records to someone in your tree; source citation; viewing & printing a family tree – group sheets & pedigree charts; member connect – merging info from other family trees & contacting other members. We’ll also answer the questions what happens when I leave ancestry as a paying member? Finally we’ll have an overview of Family Tree Maker 2012 Software for computers. Note: participants will have access to Ancestry.ca/World Deluxe. They will also have to bring a memory stick to class as well as their research info (i.e. family group sheets or pedigree charts) in order to conduct searches in class.

Workshop, 9:00 am-12:00 pm $25 + HST
St. Pius X                  Sat      Feb 1         (19003)

Workshop, 9:00 am-12:00 pm $25 + HST
St. Pius X                  Sat      May 3        (29003)

For information and registration go to http://www.fallconnections.com/, then to General Interest and Computer Courses, then Find Courses, then Leisure.

Do genes make the man?

Say you’re in that top 0.01 percent—or even the top 50 percent (in income.) Would you want to admit happenstance as a benefactor? Wouldn’t you rather believe that you earned your wealth, that you truly deserve it? Wouldn’t you like to think that any resources you inherited are rightfully yours, as the descendant of fundamentally exceptional people? Of course you would. New research indicates that in order to justify your lifestyle, you might even adjust your ideas about the power of genes. The lower classes are not merely unfortunate, according to the upper classes; they are genetically inferior.
That's an extract from an article Social Darwinism Isn’t Dead: Rich people think they really are different from you and me. By Matthew Hutson published in Slate.

Later in the article he adds:
"the few studies on the subject estimate that income, educational attainment, and occupational status are perhaps at least 10 percent genetic (and maybe much more). It makes sense that talent and drive, some portion of which are related to genetic variation, contribute to success. But that’s a far cry from saying “It is possible to determine one’s social class by examining his or her genes.” Such a statement ignores the role of wealth inheritance, the social connections one shares with one’s parents, or the educational opportunities family money can buy—not to mention strokes of good or bad luck (that are not tied to karma)."

What do you think? In your case do you attribute your success to genes, the environment in which you were brought up, luck, something else?

Reviving Renfrew history for 17 years

The December 26 issue of the Renfrew Mercury contains the "From the Old Files" column by Olga Lewis. It revives stories from up to a century ago and is the last column in a series which Olga has been writing for the Mercury for 17 years.

In recognition of this contribution the Mercury published an article "Thanks for the Memories" which mentions that Olga has produced, not published, six books containing interesting articles on the history of the area available at the Renfrew Library. If her final column is anything to judge by these books will be full of news of local people, many whom went to live far away but came back to visit relatives.

Its unfortunate there appears not to be a digitized archive of the Renfrew Mercury back to its founding in 1871.

Thanks to Jeannette Logan for the tip.

12 January 2014

England, Bristol Parish Registers, 1538-1900

This is the first section of these parish records, indexes of Somerset parishes, mainly for Bristol and mainly for 1813 to 1900. There's a detailed coverage list at http://goo.gl/R0OwFk

For Bristol christenings account for 198,725 of the records for 1784, 1792, 1811, 1813-1908; 74,649 of the marriages for 1754-1765, 1790-1932 and; 62,772 burials for 1773, 1802, 1804, 1808, 1813-1940, 1942, 1945-1946, 1950, 1955, 1957-1958, 1961-1970, 1972-1973, 1977, 1979.

Search from https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1718965

BIFHSGO January meeting: summary

Saturday morning was treacherous on the roads in and around Ottawa. Forecasts of freezing rain overnight had already deterred some. The morning radio reports offered further discouragement - several accidents with the lesser traveled roads and sidewalks offering complementary adventures in slipping and sliding. That, and seasonal colds and flu, meant only about half the regular attendance at the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa monthly meeting. Those that did had further adventures in store.

At 9 am Ken McKinlay presented on computer backups. His message was to make them, to make them regularly, to ensure they are distributed geographically so that if there's a problem in your home, say your house burns down, there are backups elsewhere. One of the facilities he mentioned that was new to me is Syncbackfree which facilitates backups to a local thumb drive or external hard drives. However, like me, Ken does a monthly backup to a local external hard drive using the Windows backup facility which is part of the Windows operating system.

After numerous announcements starting at 10 am, which included the first of the monthly draws for two one-year memberships in celebration of the society's 20th anniversary, the meeting moved on to the main presentation by Gail Roger with the title In Bibles and Bugs: My Welsh Ancestors In and Out of Africa. In English Welsh and Swahili, prose, poetry and song, Gail described her exploration of her extraordinary ancestors and relatives. I'll leave her to recount the story in writing, hopefully for Anglo Celtic Roots.

I mentioned that attendees had further adventures in store. Part way into Gail's presentation the fire alarm sounded in the auditorium at Library and Archives Canada. After verifying that it was for real we all put on our coats and trooped outside. Fortunately it was a false alarm and we were able to reassemble for the remainder of this excellent presentation.

Gail emphasized the utility of timelines when exploring your family history, of listening to information from "cousins" even when you think they're wrong, and the benefit she has received from taking online courses through Pharos Teaching and Tutoring. She also suggested trying a Google search engine for the native country, say google.co.uk rather than google.ca or google.com,

Its an indication of the vitality of BIFHSGO that Dave Cross and Judy Thamas from well outside Ottawa both made the meeting despite the driving conditions.

11 January 2014

FindMyPast's Ratebooks

On Friday you may have received the findmypast.com monthly newsletter announcing the availability of three new British datasets, the headliner being "New British rate book records."

The text of that news item is:
"Discover your British ancestors in our 19 million new rate book records. 
These wonderful handwritten records are like early censuses – they go as far back as 1598 and hold details of your ancestors’ names, addresses and who owned each property."
Perhaps from California, or wherever findmypast.com is located, that's adequate. But wouldn't it be more helpful if they'd told you the geographic scope:

  • Plymouth & West Devon Rate Books, 1598-1933: 300,000 names
  • Manchester Rate Books, 1706-1900: nine million names
  • Westminster Rate Books, 1634-1900: over ten million names

Unwanted certificates

It happened to me a couple of weeks ago. It has likely happened to you, or will happen. You order a certificate and when it arrives find it isn't the person you hoped. I was chasing Jennie Margaret Child who was born in Carmarthen in 1903, appears in the 1911 census in the home of my grandaunt in Chorley, Lancashire, then disappears.
I thought I'd found her marriage in 1935 but when the much anticipated certificate arrived it turned out to be another Jennie Child.

One thing you can do with unwanted English and Welsh certificates is make them available through http://www.certificate-exchange.co.uk/The site has been around since 2008 although not especially active - Alexa rank17,932,786. You can search certificates registered for free. To offer or receive certificates you need a free registration.
The other thing to do is add the information to a postum at FreeBMD which is what I've done. You can do that even if the certificate isn't unwanted.

Thanks to Christine Jackson for the tip about the Certificate Exchange.

Sir John A Macdonald Day

Today marks the 199th anniversary of the birth of the one man who has most claim to be the founder of Canada, Sir John Alexander Macdonald.

For a quick introduction to the man and his significance I suggest the Wikipedia article.

Library and Archives Canada, which holds a fine collection of Macdonald archival material, tweeted out a link to a Macdonald web page containing the notice that it is Archived Content.
"This archived Web page remains online for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. This page will not be altered or updated. Web pages that are archived on the Internet are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats."
Let's hope that by the time of the bicentennial the government will show sufficient respect for the country's founder to celebrate without excuses. Maybe they'll also realize that the "hewers of wood and drawers of water (and tarsands)" policy is an outdated basis for a 21st century economy.

10 January 2014

Ottawa Public Library genealogy help

The following free sessions are now open for registration through the Ottawa Public Library at http://goo.gl/mJIF8d

Genealogy on the Internet (Part One)
Expand your basic repertoire of Internet sites for genealogy in this hands-on session. Internet experience is required.
February 1, 2014, 9:30 am, 150 min

Using Ancestry Library
Discover the content and use of this popular genealogy database and learn some tips and tricks in this hands-on session. Internet experience is required.
February 15, 2014 - 10:00am, 120 mins.

Genealogy on the Internet (Part Two)
Expand your basic repertoire of Internet sites for genealogy in this hands-on session. Internet experience is required.
March 1, 2014 - 9:30am, 150 mins.

Storing and Preserving Family History
Kyla Ubbink will show you how to stop the deterioration of your family’s historic documents, memorabilia and scrapbooks through the practice of archival preservation. Learn how to avoid damage, acquire safe handling techniques, explore digitization options, and gain knowledge in basic treatments that you can apply at home. Demonstrations on cleaning books, paper and more. Presented by Kyla Ubbink, professor of cultural preservation at Algonquin College and owner of Ubbink Book & Paper Conservation.
March 15, 2014 - 10:30am, 90 mins.
Using Ancestry Library
Discover the content and use of this popular genealogy database and learn some tips and tricks in this Powerpoint presentation.
March 27, 2014 - 6:30pm, 120 mins.

Discovering Genealogy Resources
How did people find information about their ancestors before online databases and Internet sites became popular? This workshop will focus on the basic types of print material for genealogy and family history research, and will include examples of resources which are available at the Ottawa Public Library.
March 29, 2014 - 10:00am, 120 mins.

In addition Cumberland is offering free "Start your genealogy research" with a one-on-one hour-long reference appointment. Register for a session by calling 613-580-2954 x39876.

Longevity trends from WikiTree

Its interesting to see genealogical databases used for academic research. Data Mining of Online Genealogy Datasets for Revealing Lifespan Patterns in Human Population reports one such study.

The authors, Michael Fire and Yuval Elovici, using more than 1 million profiles from WikiTree find generally small but significant correlations showing:
- the longer the parents' lifespan the longer the children's lifespan;
- the longer one spouse's lifespan the longer the other's;
- the more children a man has the longer his lifespan;
- the more children a woman has the shorter her lifespan;

While the correlations are significant the effect is small. "The influence of inherited lifespan is limited and, in fact, negligible after more than one generation. Alternately, the observed correlation could be
explained due to socioeconomic reasons: ancestors with long lifespan might also indicate a higher socioeconomic status, which can be passed on to their offspring."

RootsTech live streamed presentations

There's a schedule of RootsTech, 6-8 February 2014, live streamed sessions which we can watch for free online. Go to http://www.geneamusings.com/2014/01/rootstech-2014-live-streamed-sessions.html
Thanks to Gail Dever for pointing me to this post from Randy Seaver, one of the RootsTech official bloggers.

09 January 2014

Canadian Archives Summit: invitation to genealogists

The City of Ottawa Archives will be one of the regional hosts for the Canadian Archives Summit: Towards a New Blueprint for Canada’s Recorded Memory.  The Summit will be held on Friday, January 17, 2014 at the University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs.

The purpose of the Summit is to ensure that Canada's documentary heritage continues:
 to grow systematically using all media to document the Canadian experience in its
complexity and diversity;
 to maintain the integrity of the record of Canada as evidence valid in law, as the basis
for studies in many disciplines and as a way “to know ourselves”;
 to be available to all who are interested in it now and to those of generations to come
 to advance public recognition of our documentary heritage as a source of enduring
knowledge accessible to all contributing to the cultural, social and economic
advancement of Canada as a free and democratic society.

Please join us from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm to watch the live streaming of the summit and discuss the papers and presentations.  Summaries of our discussions will be made and returned as feedback to the Summit.

As a major client of archives and other memory institutions genealogists and family historians have a stake in the discussions. BIFHSGO President Glenn Wright. Ancestry.ca staff members and BIFHSGO member Lesley Anderson will be among those participating in Toronto. I plan on participating at The City of Ottawa Archives and would welcome some company from the genealogical and family history community.

The City of Ottawa Archives is convenient to OCTranspo and offers free parking, will host the live stream of the Archives Summit in two rooms at 100 Tallwood Drive:

-       Room 226 (capacity 17) will provide the opportunity of discussion in French,
-       Room 115 (capacity 60) will provide the opportunity of discussion in English.

For more information about the Archives Summit and to access background papers please visit the ACA website under the Advocacy tab, http://archivists.ca/content/canadian-archives-summit.

To register your attendance at the City of Ottawa Archives please email John D. Lund at john.lund@ottawa.ca by Wednesday January 15th.

A list of other locations across Canada hosting remote events, where it would be good to have representation from the genealogical community, is at http://goo.gl/tcjgIL

Thanks to Paul Henry, John Lund and Ian Wilson for information.

BIFHSGO January Meeting

Bibles and Bugs: My Welsh Ancestors In and Out of Africa is the title of the main (10 am) presentation on Saturday, 11 January by Gail Roger

 "How does speaker Gail Roger owe her very existence to her great-great-uncle Thomas Lewis who died more than eighty years ago and had no children?  How did her very Welsh great-great-uncle and her equally Welsh maternal grandfather wind up on opposite sides of the African continent in two different centuries, one to build churches and the other to control the tsetse fly? Come to her presentation and learn why Uncle Thomas' posthumously-published autobiography about his missionary days in the Cameroons and the Congo both helped and hindered Gail's search for Welsh ancestors in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire." 
Dave Cross has posted an interview with Gail Roger to the BIFHSGO Podcast page.

Backups: Safeguarding Your Valuable Data is the 9 am presentation by Ken McKinlay who will provide an overview of the various ways to back up your valuable information.

This meeting, with two of my favourite speakers, is in the usual location, Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario.

08 January 2014

Genealogy books, only in the UK?

Browsing amazon.co.uk for the keyword genealogy, seemingly loosely defined, reveals the following as the most popular non-fiction books designated as "available to UK customers only."

Who Do You Think You Are? Encyclopedia of Genealogy: The definitive reference guide to tracing your family history... by Barratt, Nick

A 1950s Childhood: From Tin Baths to Bread and Dripping by Feeney, Paul

Bradshaw's Handbook to London by Bradshaw, George

London's Strangest Tales by Quinn, Tom

The Genealogist's Internet: The Essential Guide to Researching Your Family History Online by Christian, Peter

A 1960s Childhood: From Thunderbirds to Beatlemania (Childhood Memories) by Feeney, Paul

What's in a Surname?: A Journey from Abercrombie to Zwicker by McKie, David

The Great British Tuck Shop by Berry, Steve and Norman, Phil

Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy by Weir, Alison

Tracing Your Ancestors from 1066 to 1837 by Oates, Jonathan

So are we deprived of these in Canada?  The answer is no. Each one is available through amazon.ca, and they're all available in Kindle editions.

07 January 2014

Is the Ancestry PCC wills index different from TNA's?

The newly available database England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858 on Ancestry.co.uk is apparently based on a new index. The data below compares results for searches for some of the surnames in my family tree.

Surname/Ancestry exact/Ancestry default/TNA

The number of entries is not the same. The Ancestry index is not copied from TNA's. That's good. Usually TNA will include a few more entries than the Ancestry exact search and fewer than Ancestry's default search.

For Ancestry subscribers the best advice is to use both indexes, then see if you can find the original image for any entries not found by Ancestry using the reference information given from the TNA search.

Irish townlands resource

In his most recent Irish Roots column Irish townlands are a puzzle and a joy. We shouldn’t throw them away John Grenham mentions a free online resource the 1851 Townlands Index, free online at irishtimes.com/ancestor/placenames.

The Telegraph WW1 archive

Here's an idea Canadian (and other) newspapers, or institutions like Library and Archives Canada, could pick up on to commemorate the First World War.

"Every day from now until the end of 2018 the UK Daily Telegraph will be republishing in PDF form the full original edition of The Daily Telegraph of 100 years ago. The archive will grow into a fascinating record of how the First World War was reported, but the accounts of life on the home front."

This version of the paper is not OCRd so its not searchable.


06 January 2014

Ancestry adds PCC Wills

This is the first big, more than a million records, genealogy database of 2014.
England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858 with 1,012,964 records has long been available through The National Archives on a pay per view basis. Now you can search and view the manuscript originals through Ancestry.co.uk, and for all Ancestry subscribers with worldwide subscriptions.
PCC was the senior court dealing with English and Welsh probate prior to the start of the civil probate process in January 1858.

A tip of the hat to Christine Jackson for passing along the news.

Family Tree DNA webinars this week

Debbie Kennett has posted a Family Tree DNA free webinar schedule at http://cruwys.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/family-tree-dna-january-webinar-schedule.html

This week's offerings by genetic genealogist Elise Friedman are:

Family Tree DNA Feature Launch: X Chromosome Matches in Family Finder
Time: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 @ 12pm Central (6pm GMT)
Registration: http://bit.ly/19Wohgg

On January 2, 2014, Family Tree DNA launched an exciting update for Family Finder: X chromosome matches! This webinar will provide a brief overview of the new tools on the Matches and Chromosome Browser pages for viewing and analyzing your X chromosome match information.

myFTDNA: Managing Your Personal Account at Family Tree DNA
Time: Thursday, January 9, 2014 @ 12pm Central (6pm GMT)
Registration: http://bit.ly/19WorUP

Learn your way around your personal myFTDNA account at Family Tree DNA! We'll cover basic account settings, where to locate your results when they come in, how to upload a GEDCOM (family tree), how to update your Most Distant Ancestor information and map coordinates for your ancestral location, how to join projects and account privacy. (Note: This webinar does not cover interpreting your results. We have other webinars dedicated to understanding your results!)

Genealogy on Facebook

Gail Dever, co-wenmaster for the BIFHSGO website, sent me another of Gail's Goodies,  Katherine R. Willson’s “Genealogy on Facebook” list with more than 3,600 links to Facebook pages that may help genealogists further their research.

Its available for free download at http://socialmediagenealogy.com/genealogy-on-facebook-list/.  The pages are listed by country, US state, and interest, including home children and several on DNA. Most societies and interest groups have Facebook pages. Gail mentioned she has discovered several that have helped with her research.

Your advice please: OGS social media panel

The Ontario Genealogical Society Annual Conference, will be held at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario from May 1 to May 4, 2014. We'll be kicking off the Saturday morning session with an international plenary panel session. Tony Bandy (US), Kirsty Gray (England), Daniel Horowitz (Israel), Marian Press (Canada/NZ), Chris Paton (Scotland) will be the participants; I'll be moderating. You can read about the panelists, and other conference speakers at http://www.ogs.on.ca/conference2014/speakers_info/index.html
We've billed it as a social media panel and there will certainly be discussion about the panelist's social media activity. I also expect we'll address more diverse topics of interest to family historians and would welcome suggestions for topics, either as a comment or directly to me at johndreid at gmail dot com.
The organizers expect to stream the discussion online. Information on how to link remotely will be posted through the conference website at http://www.ogs.on.ca/conference2014/index.php
Thank you.

England and Wales, Marriage and Death Indexes on FamilySearch

Following on the appearance of the GRO birth index sourced from FindMyPast on December 30th, FamilySearch now has access to 35,117,915 records of the England and Wales, Marriage Index, and 40,618,506 of the England and Wales, Death Index. Both go to 1920 and claim to start at 1800. I found no records prior to 1837.

05 January 2014

Sussex FreeCEN progress

A complete 1871 census transcript for Sussex is now on line at FreeCEN.org.uk. It becomes the most populous country to have a complete 1871 census at FreeCEN. Censuses for 1891, 1871, 1861 and 1881 (thanks to the LDS) are now all available for free.

Density of the dead

An article How Corpses Helped Shape the London Underground in Gizmodo, based on the 2008 book Necropolis: London and Its Dead by Catharine Arnold, contains startling facts. The article mentions the horrendous Enon Chapel and that subway tunnels were driven through forgotten catacombs thick with bones.

Even in relatively unpopulated Ottawa the tunnel for the new LRT is being driven through an old graveyard. It set me thinking about the density of burials.

The mean population density for the 7 billion people on earth today, for land area only, is 47 per sq km. It is claimed that about 105 billion of our species have existed on earth so there are 705 deceased people per sq km. The countries of Singapore, Hong Kong, Bahrain and  Bangladesh have larger population densities and many of the world's cities have larger population densities, led by Manila at 42,857 per sq km.

Compare that to London's Manor Park Cemetery with 387,000 interments in its 0.174 sq km, or 2.2 million per sq km.

OGS Conference 2014 registration is open

I`m looking forward to the Ontario Genealogical Society Annual Conference, to be held at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario from May 1 to May 4, 2014.  It has theme "Genealogy Without Borders" and an impressive array of speakers.
There is information, and registration now open,at http://www.ogs.on.ca/conference2014/index.php. Earlybird rates are available until the end of February.