28 February 2014

WDYTYA? Live presentation on identifying human remains of soldiers who fell during the Great War

Another post on YouTube of a first class presentation from the DNA Lectures at Who Do You Think You Are 2014. This one, given by media savvy Andrew Robertshaw, somewhat ironically, emphasizes that DNA (mitochondrial), when used at all, is often only supplementary evidence. The presentation with questions runs for just over one hour, with a long tail of extraneous material. See it at http://youtu.be/MPupX-d4s74

Last call for OGS conferences advance registration

A final reminder: today, 28 February 2014, is the final day to obtain the advance purchase discount for registration for the OGS conference in St Catharines, and for GENE-O-RAMA at the Confederation Education Centre 1645 Woodroffe Avenue, Ottawa . Full information on the St Catherines conference is here (pdf), for GENE-O-RAMA here.

27 February 2014

A quick tour of British accents

A very short item demonstrating the regional variation of British accents from BBC Radio 4, via CBC As It Happens and a FB post by Kathie Orr


Streets of London now... and then

London's Mail Online has some curious photo-montages of London street scenes with modern colour and historic monochrome components. They're from the Museum of London's Streetmuseum app; worth a look on a quiet day for family history news http://goo.gl/jo4wT9

Thanks for the tip to Gail of Genealogy à la carte.

26 February 2014

Heir Hunters and the value of genealogical qualifications

A friend called to say she had been contacted by Finders, a London based heir hunting company, about a recently deceased relative. That's not a situation I ever expect to find myself in, but then neither did she.

The company, which has an informative web site, were very interested to sign her up, and seemed to be in considerable hurry to do so. Their cut would be an industry standard 20% of the inheritance. She asked my advice and, naturally, I was interested so did a little Googling.

A blog post on the Your Family Tree website recounts one person's quite favourable experience with the company.

The Society of Genealogists has a useful brochure, also available online, at What Should You do if Approached by Heir Hunters?

The Finders website provide information on their staff. What struck me as odd is that not one of them have a genealogical accreditation. One is an APG and SOG member, but neither of those require passing any kind of a test. Yet many of the others have had years of experience and success in heir hunting, which means they've proved their expertise to the satisfaction of the legal system.

What's the value of the professional qualification given by AGRA in the UK, and similar organizations elsewhere, if one of the most lucrative jobs calling for genealogical skills has no need for the qualification?

OGS Ottawa Branch Library news

Grace Lewis, OGS Ottawa Branch Librarian, has written a post for the Branch blog giving a 2013 year end review and listing latest additions for 2014. See http://goo.gl/jsqi8i

Technologies of Kinship: Genetic Genealogists and Origin Stories

A colloquium talk organized by Carleton University's Department of Sociology and Anthropology may be of interest to blog readers in the Ottawa area.
Title: Technologies of Kinship: Genetic Genealogists and Origin Stories
Against the backdrop of powerful, networked ICTs, affordable genetic tests, and discourses of human difference that inhabit genealogy and genetics research, this paper investigates the production of genetic knowledge and subjectivities within genealogical communities of practice. Based on interviews and participant-observer work in genealogical communities, this paper explores how genetic genealogists use and engage with genetic tests and databases, with ramifications for the construction of race and identity in the US context.
Scout Calvert serves as Assistant Project Scientist at University of California, Irvine. Her recent research projects have been about the “social lives of data,” primarily information infrastructures in cattle pure-breeding and genetic genealogy. Dr. Calvert also investigates how genealogists work with genetic data to create new knowledge about both recent family groups and ³deep² genealogical migrations of populations. She is a co-investigator at the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology (CalIT2), on the Health Data Exploration project. She is affiliated with the Animal Studies Graduate Specialization and the Center for the Study of Standards in Society, both at Michigan State University.
The presentation is on Friday, February 28th, at 2:30 in room A720 in the Loeb building at Carleton.
Thanks to Leighann Neilson for the tip

25 February 2014

2014 International Genetic Genealogy Conference

The 2014 International Genetic Genealogy Conference is to be held August 15, 16 and 17, 2014 at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland. The advertised speakers include many of the most knowledgeable genetic genealogists and population geneticists from around the world.

The organizer, the Institute for Genetic Genealogy, is a new independent, non-profit organization founded in 2014 with the express purposes of organizing educational conferences focused on the genetic genealogy field and funding genealogical and anthropological genetic testing and research, founded by Dr. Tim Janzen and CeCe Moore.

As Washington is much closer than Southern California and the SCGS event in June with its associated genetic genealogy event, I'm now looking at this August event as my preferred option for a US conference this year.

Further information is at http://i4gg.org/

WDYTYA Live DNA Seminars via YouTube

Recordings of five live presentations given at the Family Tree DNA Theatre at last week's Who Do You Think You Are? Live event in London have been posted on YouTube by Maurice Gleeson.

Overview presentations given are:

The Basics of DNA Testing (Katherine Borges)
DNA for Beginners - the three tests (Debbie Kennett)
Autosomal DNA - a step-by-step approach to analysing your atDNA matches (Maurice Gleeson)

Regionally specific presentations available are:

Scottish DNA - Clans, Families, and Surnames (Alasdair Macdonald)
Wales, DNA & Surnames (Brian Swann)

As these were recorded at the live event with lots of background noise the audio quality leaves much to be desired.

Depending on your familiarity with accents you may have additional difficulty, I found the presentation by Alistair Macdonald combined with the background noise a real challenge.

Brian Swann's presentation, which dealt with Y-DNA and complementary Welsh documentary resources, was especially well done although marred by running into loudspeaker announcements of the end of the event toward the presentation's end.

Sir John Tenniel (1820-1914)

Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass were staples of many a childhood, and as much for the illustrations as the stories.
Today marks the centenary of the death of the illustrator for those classics, John Tenniel, described as "one of Victorian England’s most published illustrators, but as a Punch cartoonist he became one of the “supreme social observers” of British society, and an integral component of a powerful journalistic force."
Read an comprehensive article on Tenniel in Wikipedia.
He died in London leaving an estate of over 10,000 pounds and is buried at London's Kensal Green cemetery, with burial records available at deceasedonline.com.

24 February 2014

Gail Dever suggests the Knowledge Café for FHSs

Gail Dever posts a suggestion on her Genealogy à la carte blog of a "great way for a genealogy society to encourage its experts, who may be reluctant to make a formal presentation, to share their knowledge in an informal setting."

Many societies agonize about getting volunteers. This is a way to get people involved in a relatively painless way. Once involved their foot is on a slippery slope, there's a chance the commitment of at least some will grow to the point where they will become serial volunteers.

Read Gail's post at http://goo.gl/Y0cYan

WDYTYA? Live 2014 Speakers Handouts

The Society of Genealogists have posted a selection of handouts from presentations at the 2014 event just ended at http://www.sog.org.uk/learn/who-do-you-think-you-are-live-2014-speakers-handouts/

Presently available are:

Gill Blanchard (Thursday 20 Feb 2014) Our Ancestors' Homes. Where they lived and what their homes were like.

Else Churchill (Thursday 20 Feb 2014) What's been done before? Finding Pedigrees Online and at the Society of Genealogists

Else Churchill (Friday 21 Feb 2014) What Next? Pre 1837 Parish Registers in the Archives, Online and at the Society of Genealogists

Janet Few (Saturday 22 Feb 2014) Putting Your Ancestors in their Place - Sources for reconstructing nineteenth century communities

Janet Few (Friday 21 Feb 2014) A-Z of Family History. An alphabetical journey through some less well known sources

Mark E Gardner (Thursday 20 Feb 2014) How FamilySearch Can Help You Locate Your Ancestors

Mark E Gardner (Thursday 20 Feb 2014) Tips for Using British Records

Michael Tobias (Thursday 20 Feb 2014) Researching Your Jewish Ancestors


The following have been added

John Hanson (Friday 21 Feb 2014) Why Pay? The Top Free Alternative Websites for Family History

John Hanson (Saturday Feb 22 2014) Why Cant I Find Them in the Civil Registration Indexes?

Celia Heritage (Thursday 20 Feb 2014) Newspapers for Family History

Celia Heritage (Saturday 22 Feb 2014) Wills:Not Just a Source for Our Better Off Ancestors

Daniel Horowitz (Thursday 20 Feb 2014) How Can I Share and Preserve Memories in the the Digital Era

Roz McCutcheon (Friday 21 Feb 2014) The Poor Laws and the Irish Poor

Eileen M. Ó Dúill (Saturday 22 Feb 2014)  Moving from Amateur to Professional Genealogist: Are You Ready?

Frank Pleszack (Thursday 20 Feb 2014) The Little Known Battle of  Lake Narocz

23 February 2014

Ancestry adds Newfoundland BMDs

41,143 records now on Ancestry taken from "Births, Deaths and Marriages in Newfoundland Newspapers, 1810–1890. CD-ROM. St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada: Maritime History Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland."

FreeBMD February update

The FreeBMD Database was updated on Friday 21 Feb 2014 to contain 236,152,668 distinct records.

Major changess, more than 5,000 additions, for this update are: for births 1940, 1943, 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964-66, 1968-70; for marriages 1962, 1964-68, 1970; for deaths 1967, 1969-71.

New in the BIFHSGO Library

BIFHSGO's Brian O'Reagan Memorial Library located at the city of Ottawa Archives, continues to grow by purchase and, importantly, by donation. Here are some of the latest acquisitions.

Cornish mining: the techniques of metal mining in the West of England, past and present, by Bryan Earl, published by D Bradford Barton

DNA and social networking: a guide to genealogy in the 21st century, by Debbie Kennett, published by The History Press

Doomsday book: Devon (History from the Sources) Vol. 9 Part 2, edited by John Morris, Caroline Thorn et al, pub;lished by Phillimore

The Durford cartulary (Sussex Record Society/ Volume 90) edited by Janet E. Srevenson, published by the Sussex Records Society

East Sussex coroners' records 1638-1838 (Sussex Records Society/ Volume 89) edited by R. F. Hunnisett

East Sussex Parliamentary deposited plans 1799-1970: schemes for railways, canals, harbours, roads, tramways, peers and public utilities (Sussex Record Society/Volume 87)

The history of Wales, revised edition, by John Davies, published by Penguin

Marriage law for genealogists: the definitive guide ... what everyone tracing their family history needs to know about where, when, and how their English and Welsh ancestors married, by Rebecca Probert published by Takeaway

The McHenry family history comes to life: beginning with Daniel McHenry (1817 – 1885) by Barbara Sue Baker, privately published

The people of Penryn in the 17th century, by June Palmer, privately published

Poldark's Cornwall, by Winston Graham, published by Webb and Bower

Sussex cricket in the 18th century (Sussex Record Society/Volume 88), published by the Sussex Record Society

Sussex depicted: views and descriptions 1600-1800, by John H Farrant, published by the Sussex Record Society

Sussex shore to Flanders fields: Edward Heron-Allen's Journal of the Great War (Sussex Record Society/Volume 86), by Edward Heron-Allen, edited by Brian W Fitzgerald, published by the Sussex Records Society

Tin and tin mining, by R. L. Atkinson, published by Shire Publications

Truro during the Napoleonic Wars, by June Palmer, published by Allan Bell & Company

Welsh genealogy, by Bruce Durie, published by The History Press

Thanks to BIFHSGO Librarian Betty Warburton for the information

22 February 2014

Ancestry adds Seafarers of the Atlantic Provinces database

The new Canada, Seafarers of the Atlantic Provinces, 1860-1899 database from Ancestry comprises 282,032 records. The source is Index of Surnames from the Ships and Seafarers of Atlantic Canada. CD-ROM. Maritime History Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.

This index-only collection, containing records of crew members, masters, and ship owners for vessels registered in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island is fully searchable by name, and other particulars.

The records include birth and residence, rank, voyage departure and arrival places and dates, vessel name and registration, and even wages and deaths at sea.

Records for the following ports are included:

Miramichi, New Brunswick (1828–1914)
Richibucto, New Brunswick (1880–1914)
Saint John, New Brunswick (1820–1914)
St. John’s, Newfoundland (1820–1936)
Halifax, Nova Scotia (1812–1889)
Sydney, Nova Scotia (1820–1914)
Pictou, Nova Scotia (1820–1914)
Windsor, Nova Scotia (1849–1914)
Yarmouth, Nova Scotia (1840–1914)
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (1787–1914)

Those included are not just from Atlantic Canada, a wide variety of birthplaces are given:

Canada 40,790; England 32,686; USA 19,583; Ireland 13,769; Sweden 12,906; Scotland 12,352; Germany 11,517; Norway 10,915; Finland 5,572; France 3,837; Denmark 3,621; Netherlands 3,116; Wales 2,882; Russia 1,337 - that's along with many with no birth information given.

UBC Digitization Initiatives: BC Newspapers

The University of British Columbia Library continue to tackle newspapers as one of their digitization initiatives. The papers, that date from 1865 to 1989, are:
Abbotsford Post; Alberni Advocate; Anaconda News; Atlin Claim; Bella Coola Courier; Boundary Creek Times; British Columbia Record; Cariboo Sentinel (Barkerville); Coast News (Gibsons); Creston Review; Cumberland News; Daily Building Record (Vancouver); Daily Ledger (Ladysmith); Enderby Press and Walker's Weekly; Grand Forks Sun; Hedley Gazette; Hot Springs News (Ainsworth); Independent (Vancouver); Kelowna Record; Kootenay Mail (Revelstoke); Ledge (Fernie, Nakusp, New Denver); Ledge (Greenwood); Massett Leader; Miner (Nelson); Mining Review (Sandon); Moyie Leader; Nelson Economist; Nicola Valley News (Merrit); Orchard City Record (Kelowna); Peninsula Times; Phoenix Pioneer; Prospector (Fort Steele); Revelstoke Herald Tribune (Nelson); Western Call (Vancouver).

OGS Toronto Branch February Meeting: The Juggler’s Children

If you're in Toronto on Monday February 24th, 2014 I highly recommend taking in the talk by award-winning journalist Carolyn Abraham "The Juggler’s Children: A Journey into Family, Legend and the Genes that Bind"

I had the opportunity to hear this talk in Ottawa last fall and would be happy to hear it again. She discuss the research – primarily in India and Jamaica – including the use of DNA, behind her family history memoir The Juggler’s Children.

Her interview on TVO is below

The meeting gets underway at 7:30 pm at the North York Memorial Hall, 5110 Yonge Street, Toronto

Information at http://torontofamilyhistory.org/

21 February 2014

Two British websites free this weekend

Just in from Lost Cousins, news of free access to Ancestry.co.uk and Lost Cousins this weekend. See the details at http://lostcousins.com/newsletters/showspecial14news.htm

Ancestry updates Canadian Voters Lists

Back in October 2012 when Ancestry first made available the database Canada Voters Lists, 1935-1980 there were a bit over 88 million entries.  Now the database is updated and there are ... OVER 95 MILLION. That means hundreds of thousands of additional entries for each election.

For a detailed discussion of this database refer to my previous post.

UBC Digitization Initiatives: BC Bibliography

There's lots to find in BC Bibliography, "a collaborative venture to combine the traditional tools of bibliography with the new tools of the digital world to transform our understanding of and insight into the history and life of British Columbia." While it's British Columbia focused you can find material from much further afield as illustrated by this sketch of "the Sandinian in the Ice off Newfoundland," from the book Canadian Pictures published in 1884.

You can browse page by page or search the full text of 579 books from the 1840s to the 1930s, particularly rich from the 1860s to 1880s. Try family surnames and places. I found an Ordish, one of my family names, in a directory that included California.

Historical Society of Ottawa Book Launch

Dave Mullington's latest project, a book titled “To Be Continued…  A short history of the Historical Society of Ottawa” will be launched in the downstairs auditorium of the Ottawa Public Library’s Main Branch, 120 Metcalfe Street (corner Laurier Ave. West) at 2:00 PM, Saturday, February 22.

Dave, whose previous works dealing with the city’s history include “Chain of Office: Biographical Sketches of the Early Mayors of Ottawa (1847-1948)” and “Charlotte: The Last Suffragette,” will read from his latest work and discuss some of the Society’s more important moments.

20 February 2014

MyHeritage and BillionGraves cooperation

MyHeritage has teamed up with BillionGraves to launch a global initiative to digitally preserve the world's cemeteries. The following is a note on the initiative from MyHeritage Chief Genealogist Daniel Horowitz.
As we know, gravestones are very important for genealogy due to the rich information they contain, such as names, dates and biographical details. But there are thousands of cemeteries worldwide whose gravestones have never been documented nor has their information been made available or searchable online.
In addition, time is chipping away at the gravestones and many are becoming unreadable over the years.
Over the next few years, we’ll be working with our global community to preserve and document gravestones worldwide, for future generations, using the BillionGraves app. The app uses patent-pending technology to let users photograph and document gravestones, and, with the help of MyHeritage, the app will be available in 25 languages, and will support Gregorian, Hebrew and Julian dates. The app also records the GPS locations of gravestones to make them easy to find, and volunteers can easily see which areas of any cemetery remain undocumented, to maximize efficiency and avoid duplication.
The records will be available free on BillionGraves' website, and MyHeritage's search engine for historical records, SuperSearch. MyHeritage's Record Matching technologies will ensure that our users will receive notifications whenever a gravestone matches their family tree.
BillionGraves is an independently owned and operated FREE resource accessible to all through its own website at www.billiongraves.com and through cooperation with FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com.

UBC Digitization Initiatives: WW1 posters

Online via Flickr, one of several digitization initiative from the University of British Columbia Library, are posters, broadsides, and ephemera from World War I, published in Canada, Belgium, England, France, Germany, and the United States. Find the set here.
The posters cover a variety of subjects including recruitment and enlisting, savings stamps, savings and victory bonds, women, agriculture, and munitions. They form part of the UBC Rare Books and Special Collections Pamphlet Collection.

19 February 2014

Genealogy à la carte

There's a new kid on the block!  More precisely, there's a new Canadian genealogy blog.

Welcome to the blogosphere with Genealogy à la carte Gail!

I've mentioned Gail Dever, Montreal resident, BIFHSGO webmaster, before as she has provided lots of tips for Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections.

Gail writes that "my blog is based on conversations I have with friends like you over lunch, coffee -- and via email. It is about family history news, resources, trends, issues, education, and the occasional story, all from a Montreal point de vue. While many of the posts will be about Quebec genealogy, the focus of the blog will not be limited to Quebec."

Gail's most recent post illustrates the last point.  "eBay offers hundreds of old photos of Montreal" may be focused on her search for a photo of an ancestor's shop but the idea of embracing eBay as a tool to assist your family history search can be applied by us all.

You can easily subscribe to receive posts by email as I just did.

It's great to see the blossoming of family history blogs by BIFHSGO members, each with a unique perspective:

Elizabeth Kipp's English Research from Canada
Elizabeth Lapointe's Canadian Genealogy
Ken McKinlay's Family Tree Knots
and now
Gail Dever's Genealogy à la carte

Did I miss anyone?

Welsh newspapers collection online expands

New this month at Welsh Newspapers Online BETA, 27 publications added, making a total of 6.8 million articles and 630,000 pages available for free. I was delighted to find details on weddings and funerals for my Carmarthen ancestors, and reporting of the kind of incident you'd never look for - the return of my greatgrandfather's silver watch which had been lost or otherwise gone astray.

RootsTech Quick Survey Results

Of 77 responses to the quick survey posted on February 11th regarding RootsTech in Salt Lake City in 2014 only 2 respondents had attended in person.

32 respondents, 43%, had watched a streamed presentation.

64, that's 84%, intended watching archived presentations.

33 respondents left comments. Here they are, unedited:

  • The streamed presentations were great, thanks. A much better experience than attending in person in 2013.
  • Would like to attend but don't leave home in the winter as travel can be too iffy! I've encountered snow in SLC in both late April and early October but in both cases it disappeared quickly. SLIG is also something I'd like to attend but not as long as it's held in the winter.
  • Biggest yet, but in a bigger venue so did not feel cramped. Too many keynote speakers per session, lessens the impast of each. Less 'buzz' in the media hub that usual, possibly due to absence of Thomas McEntee, Dick Eastman and Jill Ball.
  • Very grateful to watch some of these great presentations!
  • The streamed presentations I watched were excellent.
  • Large crowds limit interaction
  • Presentations streamed live we're excellent. The zipped files of speaker notes will provide helpful information for a long time.
  • I can't attend in person and I appreciate having the sessions archived for us.
  • Really enjoyed the Speakers! Great content! Really nice from my sofa.
  • Streamed presentations were great for those of us who could not make it. More recorded presentations would be even better.
  • I just can't get as excited about RootsTech as the people on the platform did.

  • Someone said www.geni.com was free--yes, free to put in your own details, but one pays through the nose to latch on to other people's information. Let's get our facts straight.

  • Good quality presentations - enjoyed them very much. We had some "time-lag" problems, so not sure if these were a technical problem from the source, or our own internet service provider not having enough band-width, but all-in-all,another great experience. A minor nit,however, and that was some presentations were a bit late in starting, from their scheduled times.
  • We had technical problems with 2 of the streamed ones - One had the speaker freeze part-way though. The one about doing genealogy in your sleep never even started. But we enjoyed the ones we did see.
  • Would've attended but the timing was bad for me.
  • I wish it weren't so far away so that I could afford to go. I do enjoy reading the blogs and I'll catch up with archived presentations.
  • How about a RootsTech in Europe? EurootsTech??
  • If I hear hag they (eg through Anglo-Ceeltic) then I might attend.
  • No
  • I am new to this group and look foreward to learning more.
  • The quality of online streaming gets better each year of RootsTech and is extremely helpful to those who do not travel. As one of the 20,000+ thousands online, I really appreciate the streamed videos as my means of attending the conference and sense of being there. A big Thank You! to all!
  • I'd like to watch archived RootsTech 2014 presentations but the technology used by RootsTech doesn't work and there's no support. On trying to watch an archived video I get the message: The error you have encountered is caused by a failure to connect to vital video content services. I've looked at http://admin.brightcove.com/connect_failed.html but that hasn't helped.
  • I really appreciate having the syllabus material available for download. How generous of everyone involved to provide so many sessions AND all the notes FOR FREE! What an opportunity to learn!
  • So many exciting developments continue to unfold.
  • keep up the good work
  • Thank you for sharing through streamed and archived presentations.
  • Very Informative and so grateful that we are able to watch live stream and view the archibed sessions. 
  • I wish there were choices on who we watch for the live streaming.
  • The presentations that were streamed seemed to be the most "popular" i.e. basic ones.
  • Thanks for sharing the streamed presentations. I greatly appreciate it.
  • I get the impression that, like many kinds of conferences, there are at least two groups of potential attendees: the amateurs, like myself, who get as much out of watching and/or reading presentations on the web; and, the pros and bloggers who have the opportunity to 'network' in person.
  • Planning to read all the blogs, then decide what to watch in full.
  • Program looked vey unexciting.
  • Superb! Had a great time.
My own comments.  I did not attend in 2014 having done so last year.  Savings in travel, accommodation and the stress of travel were major positives in staying home.  I did watch a few presentations live, and more that were archived. While the experience is not as rich I enjoyed the presentations I watched even though they mostly weren't those I would have chosen to attend had I been there.  Thanks RootsTech.

18 February 2014

Deceased Online's Aberdeenshire records

Following up on last Friday's post, the Aberdeenshire burial grounds and cemeteries newly available at Deceased Online are: Belhelvie, Essie, Forbes, Glass, Huntley, Kinnior, Kinnernie, Leslie, Midmar,  Oyne, Rhynie, Ruthven, Slains, Tullynessle, Wallakirk, Ythanwells.
These are in addition to the Peterhead Cemetery, Constitution Street, and St Peter's Churchyard, West Links, Peterhead previously added.

Thanks to Susan (Aye), who points out that subscriptions are coming to the site soon, for the tip.

OGS Conference Workshop: Autosomal DNA for Genealogy

On the morning of Friday May 2 at OGS conference 2014 (pdf) I'll be leading participants through a workshop Autosomal DNA for Genealogy 

As described in the conference brochure:

DNA testing is the latest technique for exploring your genealogy. Following a brief overview of DNA for genealogy the workshop will explore what  can be learned from the Family Finder test offered by FTDNA (www.ftdna.com) or the test available from 23andMe (www.23andme.com).
To get maximum benefit from the workshop you should have your autosomal DNA test results available with interactive access during the session  (wi-fi available). Allow 12 weeks from ordering the test to obtain results. 
The 12 weeks in advance is passed but you stand a good chance of receiving results if you order your test right away. Given the embargo on health results from 23andMe I presently recommend the Family Finder test from Family Tree DNA.

If you're uncertain about whether you could benefit, have questions, or just want to let me know you're attending, feel free to email johndreid at gmail dot com.

100 years ago in Manchester

The Manchester Evening News runs a regular Nostalgia column which reproduces articles from a century ago.  Some items it would had to imagine appearing today.

From Wednesday February 11, 1914

Secret Drinking Among Women – Practice Condemned by Stockport Magistrates

At Stockport Brewster Sessions, to-day, the Chief Constable (M. F. Brindley) reported that during the past year there has been 483 prosecutions for drunkenness, as against 512 in the preceding year. Drunkenness was not nearly so rife as it was twenty years ago, or even 10 years ago. Compared with other towns Stockport could not be classified as one of the most drunken towns.

It was pointed out that the police had practically no control over the clubs, of which there were 49, with a total membership of 6,570. Then there are canvassers from breweries going from door to door, and inducing women to give them orders for some consumption, as it is styled.

In the opinion of the Chief Constable, the safest remedy for reducing drunkenness would be to put a check upon the present sources for the secret supply of intoxicating liquors to females. It would keep many weak-willed women from indulging so freely in secret as was now too often the case, and consequently their homes, husbands and children would get more attention.

Thanks to Hugh Reekie for the tip.

17 February 2014

The mysterious genetics of genealogists

Although the gene, or genes, responsible remain elusive to science experience tells that we genealogists have traits in common:

- we love sharing our family history stories,
- we look to save money; offer a discount and if at all interested we pounce,
- we procrastinate, as if a competition existed, the winner being the one to join in as late as possible without missing out on anything.
Family history conference organisers take advantage by offering a sharing opportunities and advance registration discounts.

That's what's happening now with the OGS Conference (link is to pdf conference brochure) being staged in St Catharines, 1-4 May. Early birds save $20 on registrations by the end of February.

That's also the case for OGS Ottawa Branch's GENE-O-RAMA 2014, March 21-22, being held at the Confederation Education Centre, 1645 Woodroffe Avenue, Ottawa. Save $5 by registering before 28 February.

You can register now if you're concerned you might forget - could that be another genetic trait? I'll have another reminder posting on the 28th for those unable to resist the dictates of the genealogy gene.

Don`t forget the other deadline for saving, on an Ancestry.ca subscription.

Celebrate Heritage at Ottawa City Hall

Heritage Day is a nationwide celebration encouraging all Canadians to explore their local heritage, to get involved with stewardship and advocacy groups, and to visit museums, archives and places of architectural significance.
In Ottawa members of the public will mingle with heritage exhibitors and costumed characters, enjoy live music, and learn about services, public programs and special initiatives offered by Ottawa’s heritage organizations and communities on Tuesday, February 18 from 11:30 am to 2:00 pm  at Jean Pigott Hall, Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West.
Ottawa's genealogical groups are part of the celebrations. Come celebrate with us

16 February 2014

35% off Ancestry.ca

35% off an Ancestry subscription is a good deal, and the offer is available only until 11:59 p.m. (ET) February 17th, 2014. 

World Deluxe Annual Membership is available at the special offer price: $191.88, billed in one payment and valid for the first 12-months of membership.

Canada Deluxe Annual Membership is special offer price: $77.61, billed in one payment and valid for the first 12-months of membership.

Subscribe by calling 1-800-958-9073 with your credit card at hand between 9am - 11pm EST

OGS Ottawa Branch grants for genealogical projects

Grants of up to $2,500 each are available to support genealogically related projects within the geographical area of OGS Ottawa Branch. The total  grant money available for 2014 is $5,000. Applicants must be a non - commercial entity, which includes, genealogy societies,  museums, archives, libraries, schools, historical societies, and community groups. The application deadline is March 15 , 2014.
Check out the Call for Proposals and the Application Form (pdf).

15 February 2014

Caron - the victim?

Former Librarian and Archivist of Canada Daniel Caron in an article in Saturday's Le Devoir claims to have been the victim of an "administrative assassination". The way he sees it he faced internal opposition within LAC to his modernization and digitization plans, ideological intrusions by the Harper government which prohibited significant new acquisitions, and a lack of support, even hostility, from then Heritage Minister James Moore.
Then there's the Spanish lessons.
While Caron cannot be accused of lack of vision, one can debate whether it was the right vision, the article once again illustrates his lack of leadership skills.
He had difficult challenges to tackle. The fact that he embraced them, where he could have followed the lead of the former head of Statistics Canada, Munir Sheikh, when asked to proceed along a path he thought ill advised, illustrates he lacked the required depth of knowledge of the organization business to properly lead. To succeed he would have needed exceptional skills in selling the changes, internally and externally. He also lacked that skill. He alienated most in the external constituency by his inability to communicate and persuade.
I don't find the situation is any worse since Caron left so abruptly. Perhaps the delay in filling the vacant role is that nobody suitably qualified can be found prepared to assume the responsibilities under the conditions imposed by the Harper government.
Could the delay also have something to do with the virtual invisibility on the file of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Shelly Glover; in fact no news of any type was posted on her website from November 27 to January 31. The more recent posts are routine. When asked in Question Period on 31 January by MP Pierre Nantel "When will they (the Harper government) start to treat our archival heritage with respect and appoint someone competent to run LAC?", the reply came not from Minister Glover but MP Paul Calandra who responded "there is a process under way, and I am sure a decision will be made in the fullness of time..."
No M. Caron, the victim is Canada's heritage.

Fire and Archives

Early Saturday afternoon, London time, "Fire breaks out at National Archives in Kew, London" was the BBC headline, followed by "Four pumps and 20 fire fighters are tackling the blaze in Kew, Richmond."
Audrey Collins calmed fears with the tweet "Fire @UkNatArchives is out, humans and documents unharmed, building closed for the rest of the day"
It's a reminder that no matter how thorough efforts are to protect our documentary heritage it remains vulnerable. Motivation for more digitization with distributed multiple copies please.

The National Archives can confirm that the fire which affected the two disused water towers external to the main building is now out. The London Fire Brigade were called out at approximately 12:30 GMT and quickly controlled and extinguished the fire. No-one was hurt or injured and there is no damage to the main building or any documents.

Clem Brohier, Acting Chief Executive and Keeper, said:

'The most important thing is that no one was hurt and no documents were damaged in this incident. I have seen for myself today how quickly the London Fire Brigade got here and how staff from The National Archives swiftly put our incident plan into action and the public responded calmly and helpfully.'

The National Archives is now closed for the weekend and will reopen to the public on Tuesday 18 February, as usual.


Edmonton Municipal Cemeteries Index

Access over 60,000 electronic index records of interments more than 25 years ago in Edmonton Municipal Cemeteries at http://webproxy.edmonton.ca/external/cemeteries/default.aspx

Search by name first and/or last. You can limit to one of six cemeteries, Cloverbar, Mount Pleasant, Edmonton, Beechmount, Little Mountain and South Haven. Information returned is Last Name, First Name, Burial Date, Cemetery Section and, Block and Plot where available.

This information is also accessible by search on Ancestry.ca through a web link.

Carleton Library Jazz Collection

Here's a resource worth knowing about if you have a jazz musician or enthusiast in the family tree.
Thanks to a number of generous donations, Carleton University Library now has one of the largest jazz music collections in Canada, more than 30,000 Items, including jazz from all eras and a wide range of styles and performance. The music came to the library from donors Jacques Emond (former CKCU host) and Canadian collector John Scholes, as well a large collection from the CBC – all this complements a collection which the library has had for a couple of years from music writer and broadcaster Jacob Siskind.

Read more in an article from Carleton Now.

14 February 2014

Deceased Online adding Aberdeenshire records

The first batch of records for a huge new dataset, Aberdeenshire Council in North East Scotland, start to come online at Deceased Online on Friday. The Council manages over 200 cemeteries and burial sites in one of the largest areas in Scotland. Records will be for all burials in all lairs, in all 200+ locations.

67 genetic genealogy quotes

From the new to me English site Abroad in the Yard, a fascinating historical collection, comes 67 Quotes for Genetic Genealogists - compiled by Sanda Rimmer. Here are three:

33.    “In genealogy you might say that interest lies in the eye of the gene holder.  The actual descendants are far more intrigued with it all than the listeners, who quickly sink into a narcoleptic coma after the second or third great-great-somebody kills a bear or beheads Charles I, invents the safety pin or strip-mines Poland, catalogues slime molds, dances flamenco, or falls in love with a sheep.  Genealogy is a forced march through stories..."     Ellen Meloy

46.    “Even if I had convict ancestry, I wouldn’t be ashamed of it.  As far as I’m concerned, the real criminals back in those days weren’t twelve year old boys nicking a loaf of bread or a pair of socks to ward off hunger and blisters.  No, it was those who exploited them; keeping the battler in the gutter while they sat around in their manors, sipping tea and admiring portraits of their toffee-nosed great grandfathers.”   Cameron Trost

63.    “…all the dutiful grandchildren and great-grandchildren lingering over deathbeds with digital recorders, or else mechanically pursuing their ancestors through the online genealogy sites at three in the morning, so very eager to reconstitute the lives and thoughts of dead and soon-to-dead men, though they may regularly screen the phone calls of their own mothers.  I am of that generation.  I will do anything for my family except see them.”   Zadie Smith

13 February 2014

Canada's oldest living home child

There are more than 100,000 stories of British home children who came to Canada. At 105, Walter Goulding is Canada’s oldest living home child, one of the fortunate ones who was well treated on the farm where he was placed.

News from Genealogy Tours of Scotland

Christine Woodcock, who edits the BIFHSGO monthly online newsletter from her home in Brantford, operates a company Genealogy Tours of Scotland. Christine is very knowledgeable about Scottish family history; there's a nothing like an expert guide who knows the ropes. How good are they, the next tour, starting on May 5th right after the OGS conference in St Catharines, is already full!
If a Scottish genealogy tour is something that would help you along the next tour is scheduled for December 1- 10, subject to demand. That's unlikely to be the best time weather-wise but the traffic in archives will be less congested, and you'll be able to enjoy "Edinburgh in its Christmas splendour."
If you're the type who likes to plan well in advance contact Christine at genealogytoursofscotland@gmail.com about plans for tours in 2015. There will very likely be one April 19-28 which will include the 2015 SAFHS conference.


Kingston and Quinte Branch OGS meetings

On Saturday, February 15th OGS Kingston Branch will hold its Annual General Meeting followed by a presentation by Nancy Cutway on Genealogical Research at Queen's University's Libraries. The meeting is at the Central Branch, Kingston Frontenac Public Library, 130 Johnson Street, Kingston, beginning at 10 a.m.

On the same day Quinte Branch will show a digital presentation by Geoff Rasmussen "Digital Images: Scanning, Editing and Preserving Your Photos." Learn how to correctly digitize your documents and photos, which resolution (dpi) to choose, which file types are the best (jpg, tif, etc.) and how to fix, repair, or enhance your digital image collections. The meeting at Quinte West City Hall Library
7 Creswell Drive, Trenton, Ontario starts at 1 p.m.

12 February 2014

Glenn Wright at Arnprior

Start the celebration of Heritage Week in Ontario with a WW1 lecture by Glenn Wright.
Thanks  to Irene Robillard for the tip.

11 February 2014

FamilySearch adds WW1 WAAC records

This FamilySearch collection, United Kingdom, World War I Women's Army Auxiliary Corps Records, 1917-1920, contains records of 7,000 women who joined the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) between 1917 and 1920. The records are from series WO 398 at the National Archives and contain enrollment forms, statements of service, and other documents pertaining to their service.

There are 264,610 browse images in total organized into sections alphabetically by surname. You may likely find: name, date of birth, place of birth, residence, marital status, number of children (if married), occupation, age, date of enlistment.

The actual record images are viewable only at Family History Centres or to signed-in members of supporting organizations.

Want more information about the contents? There's a FamilySearch wiki entry that includes a sample of the file for Annie Bew who served in France in catering services. A TNA Discovery search reveals a WAAC record for Annie, available online for a £3.36 fee. The search could save you a fruitless trip to the local FHC.

ScotlandsPeople adds Valuation Rolls of 1885

The following is a press release from ScotlandsPeople reporting release of the 1885 valuation rolls, adding to those for 1895, 1905, 1915 and 1920 already available:
Historical Property Records Go Online 
The Valuation Rolls of 1885 offer genealogists and ot her history researchers a fascinating picture of Victorian Scottish society, including figures ranging from William McGonagall to Dr Sophia Jex-Blake
Property records containing the names and addresses of more than 1.4 million people living in Scotland in 1885 will be released on ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk, the government’s family history website, at 9am (4am EST) on Tuesday 11 February.
Called Valuation Rolls, the new records comprise over 77,000 digital images taken from 144 volumes, and cover every type of property which was assessed as having a rateable value in 1885. As the records include details of owners, tenants and occupiers of property, they offer historians and genealogists an excellent online resource for researching Scottish society in the late Victorian age.
Visitors to the website will be able to search the 1885 Valuation Rolls by name and address, with the records listing the names of owners, tenants and occupiers of each property - in many cases occupations are also included. Since the Rolls list every type of rateable property in Scotland, these new records include people from all the social classes.
Some famous episodes in Scottish history can be traced using the Rolls. As the 1880s witnessed mass protests by crofters in the Highlands and Islands, ScotlandsPeople researchers looked at Rolls that contain the names and addresses of people who were imprisoned following the ‘Battle of the Braes’ on Skye in 1883.
Dr Sophia Jex-Blake, one of the first female medical students of Edinburgh University, was running her pioneering medical practice in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh, for the benefit of women and children, and the Rolls reveal that she owned the house in Grove Street that was rented by her out-patient clinic, the Edinburgh Provident Dispensary for Women and Children.
Elsewhere in the Capital tenants were moving into Well Court in the Dean Village, a new housing development for the working class paid for by John Ritchie Findlay, proprietor of The Scotsman. Meanwhile his more famous project of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Queen Street was still under construction, and was valued at only £40.
Perhaps the only person who is listed in the Rolls as a ‘poet’ is William McGonagall, living in humble rented accommodation in Dundee, where he eked out a precarious livelihood performing his work and working as a weaver. Elsewhere in the town William Arrol, the famous engineer, was supervising the building of the replacement Tay Bridge, following the destruction of the first bridge in 1879. He had moved temporarily from Glasgow during the contract.
The 1885 Valuation Rolls will be available on the ScotlandsPeople website, at the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh, and at local family history centres in Glasgow, Kilmarnock, Hawick and Inverness.

RootsTech Quick Survey

Please take this quick survey, just three Yes/No questions and the opportunity to comment, about your involvement with RootsTech.

Click here to take survey

10 February 2014

BIFHSGO Writing Competitions

To celebrate its 20th anniversary BIFHSGO is holding two Family History Writing Competitions.

Open to all under 22 years of age at the closing date, the first competition invites you to write about any aspect of your family history.

For BIFHSGO members only, the second competition invites you to write about your family, or part of your family, with British Isles roots.

There is an entry form which must be completed and submitted with your entry. Read the writing competition flyer for further details.

Snatches of RootsTech

I caught the latter part of two streamed presentation from RootsTech on Saturday.

Rockstar genealogist Josh Taylor presented on Information Overload: Managing Online Searches and Their Results. There's a comprehensive handout at https://rootstech.org/wp-content/uploads/sessionfiles/GS1375/GS1375_Taylor.pdf. I tuned in as he was mentioning the search engine Yippy, which he'd apparently given more attention to earlier in the presentation. I tried it at www.yippy.com. A search for my relative Thomas Fairman Ordish returned only two results whereas Google returned many more. No wonder in the remainder of his talk Josh spoke of different protocols for Google searches.

I also caught the end of the following streamed presentation, by Randy Whited, A Beginner’s Guide to Going Paperless. In the short part I saw he was comparing the free cloud storage available from different sources, including for photos. It's one I'll be wanting to view in its entirety when online. Three presentations from the conference are already available at rootstech.org and others are promised "very soon".

09 February 2014

BIFHSGO breaks record

The attendance at Saturday morning's regular monthly meeting of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa was 215. Does any other local family history society do as well?

No doubt the topics for the two presentations helped attract the record crowd.
Bob McDonald, president of the Russell Historical Society and Museum, spoke on Gaelic Naming Patterns.

Barbara Tose, a Society favourite as well as prolific volunteer for the Society and the OGS, gave the main presentation, excellently illustrated, on Travels with My Aunt: Adventures in Europe 1914.

Unlike last month when the weather was unkind a partly cloudy sky, calm winds and a temperature of a balmy -7C likely tempted more to the meeting.

The meeting also unveiled the Society 20th Anniversary Logo which met with much approval.

Essex Family History Conference

A Family History Weekend Conference with top speakers is being held in Basildon, Essex, 29 - 31 August 2014 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Essex SFH and look forward. Find more information at http://home.btconnect.com/esfh/.

Thanks to Brenda Turner for the tip.

08 February 2014

Bletchley Park Roll of Honour

Many of the more than 10,000 people who served at the super-secret WW1I codebreaking centre at Bletchley Park went to their graves without revealing their involvement. You may be surprised, as I was, to find a relative, in my case a first cousin once removed, by searching the Roll of Honour.

Archaic humans in Norfolk

Footsteps of archaic humans, dated to between ca. 1 million and 0.78 million years ago have been found on the shores of Happisburgh, Norfolk, England.
The find is reported in PLOS One Hominin Footprints from Early Pleistocene Deposits at Happisburgh, UK which examines the footprints exposed over the last two years as winter storms eroded the seaside cliffs. Subsequent storms have washed the prints away but they are well recorded photographically, and further erosion may well reveal new evidence.
Stone tools found at Happisburgh dating from about the same period are part of an exhibit "Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story" at London's Natural History Museum opening next week and running to September.
See BBC articles here and here

07 February 2014

Essex Record Office completes online parish record collection

The following is an announcement from the Essex Record Office:

ERO’s online subscription service for digital images of Essex parish registers and wills, has undergone its next major update.  The service now includes parish registers from the ancient parishes of Chingford, Leyton and Walthamstow, and many of the newer parishes established as this area was built up in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 
These registers are held by Waltham Forest Archives at Vestry House in Walthamstow and were loaned to ERO for digitisation.  In all, ERO has copied another 473 registers, producing over 67,000 images, completing coverage of the whole of historic Essex and pushing the total number of Essex parish register images to over 580,000. 
You can either subscribe to use the service from home, or take advantage of the free onsite available to visitors to the Essex Record Office in Chelmsford and to its Access Points at Saffron Walden and Harlow.  It will shortly be provided at Waltham Forest Archives.  Opening hours vary, so please check before you visit. 
Please note that marriages after 1957 are not included, and not every single register has survived or been deposited with ERO.  Before you subscribe please check that the documents you need exist and have been digitised.
As the ERO takes pains to point out, these are unindexed records and arranged by church which means often searching through the records of several churches, especially in larger communities. They recommend using other sources to attempt to limit the amount you have to read through and only taking out a 24 hour subscription initially.

Our hyphenated ancestors

If you’re English-Irish, come into the parlour is the heading on the most recent of John Grenham's Irish Roots columns for the Irish Times. Apparently Polish-Irish, Nigerian-Irish, Filipino-Irish are widely accepted terms in Ireland, and we all know of the Scots-Irish, but English-Irish comes out only with difficulty in Ireland.
Chinese-Canadian, Somali-Canadian, and a United Nations full of other such combinations are a commonplace in Canada. English-Canadian and French-Canada refer more to the native tongue than the national origin. Thus the French-Canadians with Irish surnames.
Being English born and bred, a long time Canadian citizen and resident, I now think of myself as Canadian when in Canada; English-Canadian or English-born Canadian when pressed about my accent; and puzzled at how things have changed when I return to England.
Is it only those of us with European origins who are so flexible in how we describe ourselves? Has that always been the case?

06 February 2014


A last minute reminder that live streaming from RootsTech in Salt Lake City starts today, Thursday, at 10:30 EST on rootstech.org.

Ancestry adds West Yorkshire, England, Tax Valuation, 1910

This new database on Ancestry contains 616,598 indexed records, entries on the West Yorkshire Survey of Land Values required as a result of Lloyd George's 1909 People's Budget which sought to tax increases in land values.

Ancestry's information describing the records is sparse. Records include the name of both occupant and owner as well as information regarding the property. There's a more extensive description of the the similar records for Gloucestershire here.

BIFHSGO February Meeting with Barbara Tose

Heads Up! The BIFHSGO meeting this month, on February 8, is early as it can be as the second Saturday.

The before BIFHSGO Education Talk at 9 am has  Bob McDonald discussing Gaelic naming customs and their relation to the Gaelic language, the oldest literary language in Northern Europe and once widely spoken in Canada.

Following announcements at 10 am Barbara Tose will mark the 100th anniversary of her great-grand aunt Nellie Miller's trip and 30-page letter to her brother, a fascinating tale of events, society, and adventure in 1914. The title is Travels with My Aunt: Adventures in Europe 1914. Nellie was a nurse superintendent at Ross Memorial Hospitall in Lindsay, Ontario, who joined the J.L. Hughes party for a tour of Britain and Europe.

Listen here to Dave Cross's interview with Barbara.

BIFHSGO monthly meetings are open to members and visitors. Free admission.

The meeting takes place at Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa. There's free parking in the vicinity.

05 February 2014

MyHeritage adds huge database

Daniel Horowitz, Chief Genealogist with MyHeritage.com, sent information that they have just added 815 million US Public Records to their SuperSearch. "They cover the last five decades, starting from 1970 and includes information on the generations born after the 1940 census, filling a significant gap and providing important coverage of the USA for genealogists."
While I don't usually cover US records on the blog this is such a large dataset, and so recent, it may be useful for strays.
Mentioning it also gives me another excuse to plug the OGS conference, May 1-4 in St Catharines, where Daniel will be a speaker and on the social media panel I'll be chairing first thing Satirday morning - also to be available remotely.

Howdenshire and the York Peculiars

An announcement from origins.net about a comprehensive index to over 25,000 wills and other probate documents proved in the 54 Peculiar Courts of the Province of York between 1383 and 1857 came my way yesterday. Even better is the availability of many of those original probate documents online. See here.

Browsing the list of places included I found somewhere I'd not heard of before, Howdenshire.  We think of shire meaning country, but in this case it's a wapentake, a subdivision of East Yorkshire. The Howdenshire History website is a mine of information including a page dedicated to migrants to Canada. The names mentioned include: Bletcher, Bowler, Fearn, Hairsine, Hewson, Horsley, Imeson, Lee, Newcombe, Nutbrown, Pickering, Proctor, Stephenson, Thornton

Bernice Severson (1921-2014), R.I.P.

We record the passing of early BIFHSGO member, Bernice Severson, (nee Logan) who served on the Society Board of Directors from 1997 to 1999. Her genealogical legacy is in her 1987 self-published book Robert Logan and Elizabeth Aitken, pioneers of West Nissouri : their descendents, 1820-1987, as well as contributions to BIFHSGO publications. Find a notice from the Ottawa Citizen at http://goo.gl/TmnM93

04 February 2014

Famous Canadians common ancestry

What do the Canadians, lumber baron  J. R. Booth, department store founder Timothy Eaton, WW1 cabinet minister Sam Hughes, and hockey star Bobby Orr have in common?

Yes, they're all men, but there's more.

According to the book Ulster & Canada they're all of Ulster-Scots descent.

The book is one of more than 30 free publication from the Ulster-Scots Community Network. Other titles in the series Ulster & include China, New England, New Zealand, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.

Perhaps to make up for a lack of women in these volumes there's Herstory, profiles of eight Ulster-Scots women.

Take advantage of RootsTech 2014 online

RootsTech starts on Thursday and some of us are not able to be there this year. Some presentation will be available remotely. Here, courtesy of an article in the Deseret News, is the schedule of the fifteen sessions of the RootsTech family history and technology conference to be broadcast live online at RootsTech.org. Times are converted to the North American Eastern Time Zone.

Thursday, Feb. 6: 
12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., “Top 10 Things I Learned About My Family from My Couch,” by Tammy Hepps;
3 p.m. to 4 p.m., “FamilySearch Family Tree: What’s New and What’s Next,” by Ron Tanner;
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., “Intro to DNA for Genealogists,” by James Rader;
6 p.m. to 7 p.m., “Genealogy in the Cloud,” by Randy Hoffman; and
7 p.m. to 8 p.m., “Sharing Your Family with Multimedia,” by Michael LeClerc.

Friday, Feb. 7: 
12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., “Storytelling Super Powers: How to Come Off as Your Family’s Genealogy Hero,” by David Adelman;
3 p.m.to 4 p.m., “Tweets, Links, Pins, and Posts: Break Down Genealogical Brick Walls with Social Media,” by Lisa Alzo;
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., “Getting the Most Out of Ancestry.com,” by Crista Cowen;
6 to 7 p.m., “Finding Family and Ancestors Outside the USA with New Technologies” by Daniel Horowitz
7 p.m. to 8 p.m., “Do It Yourself Photo Restoration,” by Ancestry Insider.

Saturday, Feb. 8: 
12:30 p.m to 13:30 p.m., “Become an iPad Power User,” by Lisa Louise Cooke;
3 p.m. to 4 p.m., “Information Overload: Managing Online Searches and Their Results,” by Josh Taylor;
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., “A Beginner’s Guide to Going Paperless,” by Randy Whited;
6 p.m. to 7 p.m., “How to Interview Yourself for a Personal History,” by Tom Taylor;
7 p.m. to 8 p.m., “Five Ways to Do Genealogy in Your Sleep,” by Deborah Gamble.

Unless I missed something it appears that the opening keynote presentations each day will not be streamed as they were last year but may be available later. To see what we're missing check out this article or see the complete schedule at https://rootstech.org/schedule-info/

03 February 2014

February backup nag

Here's your monthly reminder to backup your hard drive. That's something I normally post on the 2nd but forgot this month. Fortunately I didn't forget to do my own backup - just did it a few days early.

Commentary: NYT asks "Are you my cousin?"

Have a look at this opinion piece by A. J. Jacobs from the New York Times. It's a good read. The focus is the rewards and risks of mega-family trees, like Geni.com, which compiles input from anyone who cares to contribute.

Geni is popular placing fifth among genealogy websites according to the GenealogyInTime top 100 list. It claims over 100 million profiles, unchanged from three years ago.

The NYT article highlights the fun of finding links to famous ancestors using Geni. It turns out the article author's wife’s great-uncle’s wife’s first cousin once removed’s husband’s uncle’s wife’s son’s wife’s first cousin once removed’s husband’s brother’s wife’s nephew is former New York mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Isn't that impressive!

Where I part company with the article is the latter part of the sentence "Traditional genealogists demand rigorous proof of every relationship, but the new, less cautious genealogists argue that we have to work with probabilities."

Working with probabilities does not mean being less cautious. If anything it reflects a considered approach, being more cautious in our claims and acknowledging that in even the most rigourously researched relationship there's a chance of error. That's entirely different from the entertainment approach, throwing caution to the wind, compiling a mega-tree rag bag of careful research, fanciful opinion and unenlightened adoption of other's work where you conclusion is only as strong as the weakest link..

Thanks to Eric Dodman for the tip. The image is a snippet from a larger illustration in the NYT article by Jim Stoten.

Sequence the human genome for $100?

"Coming soon: A genome test that costs less than a new pair of shoes". That's the headline on an article reporting on a panel discussion in Silicon Valley last week. 
According to the report Stefan Roever, CEO of startup company Genia Technologies, they are working on a method, called nanopore-based sequencing, which could lower the price to $100.
We've already seen with existing autosomal DNA testing, through 23andMe and Family Tree DNA, that $100 is an attractive price point. Advances like this for the family historian have only been possible because we piggyback on the massive investment attracted by application for medical applications. 
Read the article at http://goo.gl/Q7v2wQ, and more about the company's ambitious plans for "the iPhone of gene sequencing" at http://goo.gl/CDwzJl

via a tweet from Debbie Kennett.

02 February 2014

Unlock the Past Tour

Chris Paton posted on his blog a report on the first event of a tour he's on. in company with Thomas McEntee, in Australia. If you're tired of cold and snow you might want to soak up the warmth vicariously by following reports on his British GENES blog.

Chris, top Rockstar genealogist as voted by Canadians, will be a speaker at the OGS conference this year. May 1-4 in St Catharines. Information and registration now available at www.ogs.on.ca/conference2014/index.php

MAPCO is missing

Since March 2009 I've been singing the praises of MAPCO for their reproductions of old maps, especially of London. Now the site is gone. Gail Roger drew my attention to a tweet, dated January 27th, from Mapco’s account:

MAPCO is a victim of its own success. Too much traffic & too much server load has forced the closure of the site. Future is uncertain.

Some of the MAPCO content can be recovered through the Internet Archive although it seems to be a bit hit and miss. For instance, find the Kelly's Post Office Directory Map Of London 1857 at https://web.archive.org/web/20101119172317/http://archivemaps.com/mapco/kelly1857/kelly.htm

OGS Families: February 2014 issue

In the 40 pages, including cover pages, of the February 2014 issue of the Ontario Genealogical Society's quarterly journal, Families, 12 items are classified as articles, about three-quarters of the issue.
The longest article, six pages, is Researching Your Manitoulin Ancestors by Shelley J. Pearen. Those who live on islands and similar geographically seperate communities, are fortunate that they more than pull their weight when it comes to local pride in the community and its heritage. This article provides research guidance needed by someone who finds their genealogical journey leading onto the island.
Zeb Crouteau: "The Trapper from Pouce Coupé" (1877-1933) by Lynne Duigou is the story of a trapper in British Columbia and the arduous journey to recover his body.
Jack of Two Hearts by Sandra Lewis recounts the story of Jack Ledsham, an immigrant from Cheshire in 1913 and his dedication to the Jehovah's Witnesses as well as his family.

There is a variety of shorter articles, OGS news and notices. The regular Name Game column has three entries; one book is reviewed and there is half a page of commercial advertisements in addition to three pages of OGS ads.

01 February 2014

Benchmarks update for January

Updating the monthly Alexa and other benchmarks for leading genealogical websites as of the end of January shows the major commercial sites gaining ground. In case you missed it GenealogyInTime posted their annual top 100 genealogy websites earlier in the month. See it at http://goo.gl/vbp8wM
Familysearch.org has added or updated record collections for a total of 1,711 (1,699). Census & lists account for 152 (152); birth, marriage, & death 1.025 (1,018); probate & court 161 (157); military 119 (119); migration & naturalization 104 (103); other 150 (150). Familysearch.org has Alexa rank 5,064 (5,286).
Ancestry had a good month. The .com site edged up for Alexa rank 663 (667); ancestry.co.uk reversed the previous month decline to rank 9,239 (9,499) and ancestry.ca 21,991 (24,614). With the addition of databases from familysearch.org here are 31,665 (31,477) datasets in the collections including 1,968 (1,965) for Canada, 1,769 (1,741) for the UK, 133 (133) for Australia and, 25,213 (25,175) for the USA.
MyHeritage.com's Alexa rank was 6,454 (6,631) regaining half the ground lost the previous month.
Findmypast.co.uk has an Alexa rank of 29,485 (31,928). Findmypast.com ranks 107,032 (135,036).
Family Tree DNA, which no longer lists statistics on records in its database on its website front page, ranks 26,261 (25,710) on Alexa. 23andMe ranks 9,908 (9,314) continuing to decline as the FDA halt to its personal genetics health business takes hold.
GenealogyinTime.com ranks 34,475 (31,473); Mocavo.com 49,104 (49,917); eogn.com 23,739 (22,544).
Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk contains 7,343,941 (7,242,336) digitized pages, an average addition of 3,377 (4,807) pages per day; Alexa rank 126,932 (131,424).
Newspapers.com contains 2,142 (2,072) newspapers including 667,310 (667,144) pages for England and 1,213,349 (1,208,259) pages for Canada. The Alexa rank continued a rapid advanced to 35,659 (44,760).
Cyndislist.com claims 329,573 (329,378) total links in 204 (204) categories, with 1,773 (1,775) uncategorized; Alexa rank continued to advance 65,043 (74,074).
FreeBMD.org.uk has 235,362,957 (234,654,611) distinct records, Alexa rank 80,951 (85,288).
CanadianHeadstones.com has 794,000 (772,000) gravestone photo records from across Canada. Alexa rank 513,183 (584,091).
Deceasedonline.com fell back from its jump the previous month to 697,098 (572,995).
The Canadian Gravemarker Gallery (gravemarkers.ca), has over 815,000 (800,000) photographs from across Canada and advanced to 5,669,563 (7,260,634) on Alexa.
Amongst Canadian family history societies bifhsgo.ca slipped to rank 2,130,064 (2,118,252), qfhs.ca reversed the previous month climb to rank 6,655,816 (4,798,171), and ogs.on.ca continued to decline to rank 327,202 (299,490).
And in case you're curious, Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections has 5,356 (5,267) posts; on Alexa the .ca site sunk further to 236,710 (191,163).
Did I miss something significant? If so please post a comment with statistics if applicable.