29 February 2016

TheGenealogist adds World War 2 POW records

The following is a press release from TheGenealogist

World War 2 Prisoners Of War

Leading British Genealogy Website, TheGenealogist, has added over 150,000 World War II Prisoner of War records to its already significant military records collection. These new records detail Officers and other ranks from the British Army, Royal Navy, RAF and those members of the British Empire land forces that were held as Prisoners of War in Germany and German Occupied territories.

This release will allow researchers to discover servicemen held by the Germans between 1939-1945 and includes many of the brave escapees whose stories of breaking out and dashing to freedom have captured the imagination for decades.

These records allow us to:

Research POWs who served in Armies and other land forces of Britain and the Empire 1939-45 along with the Naval and Air Forces of Great Britain and the Empire 1939-1945
Find names and details of men who were captured and incarcerated in German POW camps in Europe
Check the details such as names, service numbers, and regiments of ancestors that were German POWs
Search for daring escapees from within the camp lists
Research where your military ancestors were held, revealing their camp number and location
Discover the ranks, POW numbers, Service numbers and Regiments of those held

Covering the Nazi German camps in Europe, these lists are taken from official alphabetical nominal registers and reveal names and other particulars of:
94,608 British POWs in Germany, including Officers and other ranks
39,805 POWs from Empire Land Forces
19,250 Naval & Air Force POWs from Britain & its Empire

Joining an already comprehensive range of military records on TheGenealogist that span from 1661 to the 1940s, these lists are a useful addition for researchers. TheGenealogist’s military collections already include Army, Navy and Air Force Lists, Dambuster records, First World War POWs, plus many other records.

Examining some of the names of Prisoners of War released online at TheGenealogist.co.uk allows us to uncover the brave and determined Allied servicemen who made escape attempts from the Nazi German PoW Camps.  One brave serviceman, although hampered by being a double amputee from an air accident from before the war, still did his duty to try and escape.

AGRA conference aims to demolish brickwalls

The following is a press release from the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives

Major conference on demolishing brickwalls to be held in Cambridge

Historic St John’s College, Cambridge is the venue for the first conference organised by the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA). The conference will be looking at Demolishing Brickwalls and takes place on Saturday 17 September 2016.
An array of top speakers will be offering delegates ways of moving their family history research forward. They include the genealogical expert John Titford, The National Archives’ military expert William Spencer, and Rebecca Probert from Warwick University who has written bestselling books about divorce records and marriage law.
 In addition a panel of experienced AGRA members will be available to help conference delegates overcome the brickwalls in their research. And top genealogical writer Sarah Williams, delivers the after dinner speech at the pre-conference dinner.
Everybody is welcome to attend the conference whether they be experts or just starting out. “There will be tips galore from our speakers, ” says Mike Trenchard, who is organising the conference, “to help you overcome problems with your research.”
The conference costs from £75. You can find all about the conference at www.agraconference.com.

How active is AncestryDNA?

Information provided in the tabulation of your matches on AncestryDNA includes the date when that client last logged in.
Looking at my top 350 matches as of February 28, 54% had most recently logged in during the month; another 15% last active during January.
26% had last logged in during 2015, 4.3% last active during 2014 and 0.6% during 2013.
Based on the sample the chances of a person with whom you newly match seeing it are about 70% within two months.
Whether the match is significant enough for them to respond, and whether they will, is another matter.

British Newspaper Archives additions for February

The British Newspaper Archive now has 13,316,832  (13,039,978 last month) pages from 593 (587) titles online.
The full list of additions this month is:

28 February 2016

Family Tree Maker and RootsMagic

I could only stay for the first part of the OGS Ottawa Branch Computer SIG on Saturday where the topic of conversation, for what was a larger attendance than usual, was the possible need to switch from Family Tree Maker (FTM) genealogical software. For many FTM is an old friend.
The current FTM will continue to work as before until the end of the year. Its purchase by MacKiev with their commitment to maintain and upgrade has been announced. Yet there is still concern, reinforced by those who have tried the Mac version of FTM, which MacKiev have been responsible for for some time, and don't like it. As shipping from MacKiev is announced for 1 March we won't have long to wait to get an initial look.
The meeting saw a hand-on demonstration of RootsMagic which several people had purchased to try. Others were considering doing so. The demo helped those with questions understand the capabilities. As no internet capability was available at the time of the meeting the web search capability to FamilySearch and MyHeritage could not be demonstrated.
My impression is that the learning curve to competence with Roots Magic for previous FTM users isn't that steep. RootMagic addresses the switch here. There remain questions on how well the promised imports of FTM files and web search interface to Ancestry will perform.
My view continues to be that it's premature to switch. A lot can happen, or not happen, in 10 months. It may not be necessary to switch at all and other options may develop.

Update on Ontario Tweedsmuir Histories

Last Monday in Arnprior at a meeting of Patrick's Family History Group I had the chance to speak with Irene Robillard who told me how busy she's been writing grant proposals. As well as being involved with the Arnprior McNab/Braeside Archives Irene serves as Digitizing Coordinator with the Federation of Women’s Institutes of Ontario.

She mentioned that one of the proposals was regarding Tweedsmuir Histories. We didn't have time to discuss that in any detail.

Background on the situation and plans is in the latest OGS weekly newsletter (free subscription here). Here's that update:

In July 2015, the OGS and FWIO discontinued their agreement to digitize the Tweedsmuir Community History Collections, as the e-library did not materialize and funding has not been available for the past few years for further digitizing. With this project, nearly 70 collections were digitized at the Branch and District levels, primarily in Peterborough and Bruce Counties, as well as the Provincial level Tweedsmuirs and the Home and Country newsletters.
The project, however, is still alive. The Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario (FWIO) continued to look at other means to continue digitizing. I am happy to report that we received a grant in December through the Documentary Heritage Communities Program. This grant is allowing us to create an online, searchable platform to load the documents previously digitized by the OGS, as well as digitizing a few more collections. This grant is to be completed by March 31 (4 short months) and we are just beginning to load the platform, starting with the Home and Country newsletters. All will not be loaded by March 31st.
FWIO is applying for further funding through this program for further digitizing. So progress is being made. In the meantime, there is a chart is on our website (fwio.on.ca) listing all the branches, past and present, and the location of the Tweedsmuir collections, where known. This chart is in the pull-down menu under Tweedsmuir and is updated on a regular basis - pdf. If you monitor our website, there should be an announcement of the new platform around March 31st, if not before.

27 February 2016

FamilySearch adds England, Cornwall and Devon Parish Registers, 1538-2010

This new database from FamilySearch comprises baptisms (to 1910), marriages (to 1935), banns, and burials (to present).
For Cornwall there are images for 228 parishes, from Altarnon to Zennor. For Devon only the parishes of St Giles on the Heath and Werrington are available. A total of 202,325 images are available copied from the Truro Record Office with a fraction of them indexed totalling 182,501 records.
For those not indexed, but after 1837, use FreeBMD as well as census entries to provide clues to the location and time period to search by eye.

26 February 2016

Military Tribunal records new at Findmypast

During the First World War men could appeal their conscription into the British Army at military tribunal hearings.  A person could appeal on the grounds of ill health, serious economic hardship, or conscientious objection to the war, or if their education or employment was of national importance. I

Findmypast has placed online Middlesex, Poplar Military Tribunals 1916-1918 with records of  3,221 cases and for over 12,000 cases from Northamptonshire. Index transcriptions and original images are online.

Good and bad news from the National Library of Australia

First the good. 40,000, out-of-copyright maps from the NLA's massive collection are now online in what it claims constitutes the world’s biggest library of free digitised historical maps. That's 5% of the collection. They date from the late 15th century to 50 years ago.

40,000 is pretty good going. According to The Australian the British ­Library has digitised 10,000 maps and the New York Public Library has released 20,000 maps. NLA's may not be the biggest, depending on how you count. The David Rumsey Map Collection claims over 66,000 historical maps and images online.

Where does LAC stand? An archived page from 2004 informs that "About 4,000 items from the catalogue, now in the public domain, have been digitized and may be consulted online. This number will increase on a regular basis." Searching LAC image search for Maps and cartographic material surfaces 5,559 items.

Now the bad news. Despite amazing productivity the NLA is slated for substantial budget cuts. The amazing productivity known around the world is Trove. Although it will continue "the library will also cease aggregating content in Trove from museums and universities unless it is fully funded to do so."

I personally have benefited from Trove have found newspaper items and a list of returned POWs including my father after his ship was sunk by a Nazi raider in 1940. They led the way in crowdsourcing correction to OCR'd material. Benefit to other international researchers is documented in this blog post. For more read Tim Sherratt's blog post #FUNDTROVE 

Genealogy at the Ottawa Public Library in March

Looks like there's good demand for the free genealogy sessions. at the OPL. Of three genealogy sessions being offered in March two are already fully subscribed. They are:

Researching Your Irish Family Tree, on 2 March and; Searching Historical Newspapers on 22 March.

The session still open is Using Ancestry Library offered at Nepean Centrepointe on
Thursday, 10 March at 1:30pm.

A reminder that you can book a one-on-one appointment with one of the OPL genealogy specialists at either Cumberland, Main or Nepean Centrepointe through https://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/book-appointment-pre

The genealogy group will also be represented at the Heritage Day Celebration and Photo Display at OPL Stittsville Branch this Saturday, 27 February from 1:30 p.m.

25 February 2016

FamilySearch adds Irish census remnants

Not every part of the early Irish censuses were destroyed. Now FamilySearch has made available the indexed surviving fragments, thanks to their cooperative agreement with Findmypast.

For 1821: 275,103 records survive in 10,459 images.
For 1831: there are 80,338 records in 3,818 images
For 1841: 15,850 records are available in 2,358 images
For 1851: 58,795 records are in 9,450 images.

You need to be an especially lucky to have an ancestor in one of the few surviving parishes.

OGS Ottawa Branch February Meeting

The main event at 1 pm this Saturday, 27 February is the presentation Captive Ancestors of North America by Jennifer DeBruin

"Many North Americans can count at least one captive ancestor in their family tree. Riveting, complex and heartbreaking, the captive story is one of tragedy and triumph. As the battle for supremacy over the colonies of North America raged from the early 1700’s and beyond, people were swept up in its wake – many of them children. The audience will be taken on a treacherous journey, exploring the many complexities of life in ancient lands, and the result of French and English claims to its riches."
At 10:30 am the Genealogy: Back to Basics session is "Discovering and Sharing Our History – Our Story"

The Computer Special Interest Group will meet at 3 pm following the feature presentation.

As usual the venue is the City of Ottawa Archives at 100 Tallwood.

24 February 2016

Who Do You Think You Are? Live

My hotel reservation is made to attend the 2016 version, the 10th, of this premiere UK genealogy event.

For the second year it's being held at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, this year 7-9 April.

It's a couple of years since I attended and will be earning my admission by speaking on Finding English emigrants to Canada and their descendants at 16:15 on the first day. I see I'm speaking opposite Janet Few who I'd love to hear -- isn't that always the way.

I'm also booked to make a presentation the next day in the DNA presentation area, assuming it goes ahead. That will be a talk on Richard III much like that I gave to BIFHSGO last October.

In addition to a number of celebrity speakers, usually previous subjects of WDYTYA TV episodes, there are lots of familiar names on the agenda as workshop speakers: Peter Christian, Else Churchill, Beryl Evans, Simon Fowler, Julie Goucher, Kirsty Gray, John Hanson, Celia Heritage, Sharon Hintze, Daniel Horowitz, Alec Tritton.

On previous visits I've alway run into a few Canadians -- this year will be no exception. Join us if you'd like to give your UK research a boost.

LAC blog and an 1885 eclipse

Library and Archives Canada posted an item Captain James Peters: War correspondent and photographer on their blog. Peters was part of the contingent that when to suppress the Northwest Rebellion (or Resistance) in 1885. The blog links to some images he took while on that mission which will be of interest to those with ancestors who served with  “A” Battery of the Canadian Artillery and associated troops, Also some taken images taken at other times.

Browsing through those I came across "An Eclipse of the Sun / "Jake" Observing / To the Officers Quarters / Toll Gate" from R2547-34-5-E. Volume/box number: 5504.

The image on the right, "Jake" observing appears to show a man looking directly at the sun through a telescope - ouch!

Zooming in on the image on the left produced this fuzzy image of a partial eclipse.

Googling found there were two solar eclipses that year, in March and September. The second image shows a lot of snow - typical for March in Quebec City.

That eclipse was on 16 March 1885 visible as a partial eclipse in Quebec City.

Checking out the eclipse animation for Quebec City at http://astro.ukho.gov.uk/eclipse/0131885/ shows the moon traversing the upper part of the sun meaning this image is inverted. It would appear the image was from about 19:00 UT (GMT) or 2 pm.

HSO February Meeting: Ottawa Railway History 1855-2018

In February the Historical Society of Ottawa meeting welcomes David Jeanes on the topic Ottawa Railway History 1855-2018

The date is 26 February at 1pm. As usual, the location is the Routhier Community Centre, 172 Gigues Ave, Ottawa. Further information at http://hsottawa.ncf.ca. Everyone welcome. 

23 February 2016

Another storm: a opportunity to view the Starting out with the 1939 Register webinar

If you're staying inside out of the weather on Wednesday, 24 February that's a good idea. It looks like a mess. Instead take in a 11 am (EST) webinar when Findmypast resident experts will show you what to expect from the 1939 Register, explore its maps, facts and much more. Register here.

If you can't attend and would like to catch up with what's new, now that the 1939 Register is available as part of a Findmypast subscription, no extra charge, I can recommend Peter Calver's Lost Cousins Newsletter special edition, here, as well as the update here. As I mentioned to BIFHSGO member Bert Hayward last weekend, I was going to write my own summary. Peter has done such a good job there's no point.

University of Strathclyde offers free MOOC genealogy course

Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree is a free massive open online course which aims to help you "develop an understanding of genealogy – how to research your family tree and communicate the results."

Although offered by The University of Strathclyde "the course will not concentrate on a specific country’s records or how to source these, so it will be useful to anyone around the world."

Offered through Future Learn it starts on 14 March, runs for 6 weeks, and expects to take 4 hours per week.

Check out the details and sign up at www.futurelearn.com/courses/genealogy

Via British GENES

More on the Kitchissippi Museum initiative

Check out Dave Alston's post here about the community meeting on the 28th, next Sunday, and an article in the Kitchissippi Times.

22 February 2016

The Ontario Historical Association will present a talk entitled, "The Great Chicken Civil War and Other Fowl Tales from the Farm."

The speaker, Peter Anderson, is a PhD candidate from Queen's University.

The talk will be at Library and Archives Canada, on the 2nd floor of 395 Wellington St in Ottawa and will start at 7:00 pm. Admission is free and all are welcome!

How to date Griffith’s Valuation precisely

John Grenham reveals a method for determining when Griffith's Valuation was made for any given area. Useful if your ancestor moved. See the blog post at http://johngrenham.com/irishroots/?p=115

How will LAC archive Canada's news?

This post was prompted by a blog post From print to digital from Luke McKernan of the British Library. Its last paragraph is
However long it takes, time is running out for print newspapers. It will be our job to ensure that we continue to serve the needs of UK research by increasingly gathering news in its digital forms. We need a smooth transition, with consistency of representation. The challenge is that the mechanisms to do so are not fully in place as yet. The technologies are; the means to ensure capture, identification and continuity are not. But we're working on it.  
So the British Library is struggling, but at least they're working on it. What about Library and Archives Canada? How will it continue to meet its mandated obligation to to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada.

Last I heard LAC has no newspaper archivist/curator. Lacking that who is looking to how LAC handles a transition to digital in news? How is it being dealt with? What's the approach? Or are we on the path to a dark age in Canadian news archives?

The Franklin Expedition and the Discovery of the HMS Erebus

In 1845, explorer Sir John Franklin set sail from England with two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, in search of a Northwest Passage across what is now Canada’s Arctic. The ships and crews vanished, prompting a massive search that continues to this day.
A breakthrough was made in September 2014 when an expedition to Victoria Strait led by Parks Canada discovered the wreck of HMS Erebus preserved in in eleven metres of frigid water.
On March 4, from 7 to 9pm, the Rotary Club of Arnprior will host “The Franklin Expedition” at St. John Chrysostom Church Hall. Ryan Harris, senior underwater archeologist with Parks Canada, will be the presenter. Tickets are available at the door, at the Arnprior Library, and at the Gallery Gift Shop in Arnprior, and are $15 in advance, $10 for students, and $20 at the door.

Arnprior is just thirty minutes west of Ottawa, and the church is located at 295 Albert Street.

Additional information can be obtained by calling 832–3263 or 623–6019.

21 February 2016

Scottish Genealogy Group Meeting Cancellation

Saturday's Scottish group meeting was cancelled at 5pm on Friday owing to weather.  I understand a handful of people who turned up did have an unofficial meeting.
Unfortunately the message about the cancellation didn't reach me. Should I stop publicizing those meetings? Opinions please.

More Devon records at Findmypast

If your family history interest is in Devon it may take quite some while to explore the potential of these Devon records. If you do find a person of interest it could throw a whole new light on the family.

The Plymouth & West Devon apprentice records list the details of 5,312 apprentices  and their masters between 1570 and 1910. Each record includes a transcript and image of the original document.

Seven new Devon Directories with over 5,000 records are added to FMP's British trade directories collection. They are:

Newton Abbot & District, Kelly's Directory, 1937
Kelly's Directory, 1935-1936
Kelly's Directory, 1930
Plymouth, Devonport & District, Eyre's Directory, 1897
Torquay & District, J W Hill's Directory, 1869-1870
Kelly's Directory, 1866
Exeter, Besley's Directory, 1835
The next two collections get into detail which can be amazing. You have to check the image in each case to get that detail as the so called transcript is just more like an index.

The Plymouth & West Devon parish chest records, 1556 - 1950 consists of 434,657 results, an eclectic mix of documents, The records cover an array of local matters such as the levying of taxes, selection of juries and pew rentals within the church, bastardy bonds, workhouse admissions and discharge. Transcripts include an individual's name, the event that was being recorded and the date of that event.

The Plymouth borough records, a collection of 109,317 administrative records, name index and image of the original record, from the borough of Plymouth are described by FMP as "an array of assorted documents including orphan's aid cash books, court examinations and freemen's papers, to name a few. The collection is a fantastic way to explore the daily operations of Plymouth from the sixteenth to the twentieth century and contain people from all walks of life, from pauper children to Plymouth's mayors to merchants and farmers.

By way of example, there's a record under the name of Elizabeth Down. It turns out to be a deposition she made regarding deliberate damage to her furniture after she moved into a rented room.

FamilySearch adds England, Lancashire, Oldham Cemetery Registers, 1797-2004

You can now browse 48.385 page images from cemetery registers from Hollinwood, Failsworth, Royton, Crompton, Chadderton, Lees, and Greenacres cemeteries in Oldham. Most registers contain, name, address, date of death, date of burial and burial location.

There's a file for each cemetery and various sub-files/

Chadderton has registers from 1857 - 2003 and an index in two parts
Crompton has burials for 1891 - 2003
Failsworth has records for 1887 - 2003 with an index
Greenacres has interments from 1857 - 2003
Hollinwood has burials from 1797 - 2003 with an index
Lees covers 1879 to 2003
Royton records are for 1879 - 2004.

Find out more about these cemeteries at www.oldham.gov.uk/info/200388/cemeteries_graves_and_memorials/641/cemeteries

Ottawa Archives celebrates 40 years

The City of Ottawa Archives was established 40 years ago, in 1976, while  Lorry Greenberg was mayor. That surprised me as I'd thought Marion Dewer was mayor at the time but her term started in 1978.
Over the years the archives has been in four locations, on Stanley Street, 2 locations within the former City Hall on Green Island, and in the the present location at 100 Tallwood.
There will be a celebration in association with Doors Open Ottawa, June 4 and 5, 2016.

20 February 2016

TNA Blog: Battle Babies

According to a TNA blog post the following battles appear as the names of children born 1914-1919 in England and Wales:
Argonne; Arras; Cambrai; Cavell; Neuve Chappelle; Dardanelles; Delville & Delville Wood; Flanders; Heligoland; Helles; Isonzo; Jutland; Krithia; Liege; Loos; Marne; Messines; Mons; Paschendaele; Soissons; Somme; Thierry; Verdun; Vimy Ridge; Ypres.

Children were also named for war heroes: Kitchener (166), Cavell (25), Haig (11), and for the end of war, Victory (120), Peace (84),  Poppy (44).

Read the TNA news item here and the blog post here,

I wondered about these names in Canada. The 1921 census shows the following children born during and immediately after the Great War: Verdun (142), Vimy (28), Ypres (2), Arras (1), Kitchener (124). The years 1918 and 1919 saw 21 children given the name Victory and 10 the name Peace.

As for war leaders of Canadian troops Currie had been a name used before the war, there may have been a slight increase. Bing was much used in the Chinese community unrelated to the war.

Can you find others?

19 February 2016

Patrick’s Family History Group presentation: Rollin' on the River with Captain Dan

On Monday evening in Arnprior Christine Jackson will be presenting her research into a pioneering Canadian family with deep roots in England, who gave their name to the Champlain Park (Ottawa) street on which she has lived for nearly 30 years―Cowley Avenue.

Christine will trace the early Ottawa Valley history of the entrepreneurial and pioneering riverboat captain, Captain Daniel Keyworth Cowley—and his connection with Champlain’s iconic lost astrolabe. She will reveal his family’s role in the Valley’s history and economic development, as well as their surprising and great contribution to Canada’s national winter game.

Patrick’s Family History Group will meet on Monday at 7pm at the Arnprior Library, 21 Madawaska St., Arnprior, Ont.

FreeBMD February update

The FreeBMD Database was updated on Friday 19 February 2016 to contain 252,514,853 (251,862,909) distinct records.
Years with major updates, more than 5,000 new entries, are for births: 1963, 1964, 1966, 1971, 1974-76; for marriages: 1965-66, 1968-69, 1974-76; for deaths: 1973, 1975-76.

Friends of the OPL Book Sale

If you're in the vicinity of the City of Ottawa Archives building at 100 Tallwood on Saturday, perhaps to go the Scottish Group meeting, stop in to the meeting room on the ground floor and pick up a book or two. There's a large selection spread into all corners and out into the adjacent hallway.

I noticed a copy of Carolyn Abraham's The Juggler's Children ex libris in good condition, a fascinating story of genetic genealogy assisted family history exploration.

Ancestry.co.uk Free Weekend

Not an Ancestry subscriber, or not a subscriber to the UK and Ireland collections? Take advantage of Ancestry's free access to the records in the featured British and Irish collections until 21 February, 2016 at 23:59 GMT.
There's a list of the records available free at http://search.ancestry.co.uk/search/group/uk_irish_records.

Irish Resources New at Findmypast

See the context for Irish ancestors in two Irish resources new to Findmypast.

Ireland Census Reports, over 19,000 records, 194 census reports, compiled from census returns spanning the years between 1851 and 1911. Find statistical details regarding the number of inhabitants in a given townland and cover all 32 counties of Ireland. The statistics are broken down by gender, age, or other similar categories and can help provide you with an invaluable snapshot of your ancestor's community.

Ireland Statistical Surveys portrays the realities of life in 10 Irish counties; Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, King's (Offaly), Leitrim, Mayo, Meath, Roscommon, and Tyrone. Read about history, agricultural practices, politics, customs, and religion. These reports by the Royal Dublin Society were created early in the 19th century for pre-Famine Ireland.

Ottawa Scottish Genealogy Group meets on Saturday

This Saturday, 20 February, at 10 am would be an excellent time to advance your efforts at discovering your Scottish ancestors.

The BIFHSGO Scottish Genealogy Group is made up of people who share Scottish interests. Meetings are an informal meetings sharing of information and resources so bring your brick wall challenges.

The forecast is cloudy with 70 percent chance of showers. High plus 5.

Kilts are optional.

The meeting is in Room 226, City of Ottawa Archives, 100 Tallwood Drive, Ottawa, Ontario.

$5,000 on offer from OBOGS

There's a call for proposals from The Ottawa Branch of The Ontario Genealogical Society which is offering grants of up to $2,500 each to support genealogically related projects within the geographical area under the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. The total grant money available for 2014 is $5,000. The Application deadline is March 25, 2016.

Read the terms and conditions in the call and find an application form at http://ogsottawa.on.ca/grants/

18 February 2016

Ancestry.com Annual Report for 2015

Ancestry chose as highlights or its Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2015 Financial Results, issued 17 February:

— 2015 Revenues $683.1 million, Up 10.3% Year-Over-Year —
— 2015 Adjusted EBITDA $263.0 million, Up 16.7% Year-Over-Year —
— Subscriber base grows by approximately 150,000 in 2015 —
— AncestryDNA sells approximately one million DNA kits in 2015;  DNA kit sales more than double in Q4 year-over-year.

Looking beyond the financials:

Subscribers of Ancestry websites totalled approximately 2,264,000 as of December 31, 2015, compared to 2,115,000 as of December 31, 2014. The change in subscriptions for the past seven years is shown in the bar chart.

The Company added over 1.7 billion new records during 2015.

AncestryDNA sold approximately one million kits in 2015 and now has a database with DNA samples from 1.5 million people.

Ancestry Academy, New Ancestor Discoveries and a beta launch of Ancestry Health were introduced in 2015.

Finding Your Roots: Family Reunions

I can think of no clearer example of the value of autosomal DNA testing for genealogy than displayed in the latest episode of the PBS series Finding Your Roots. It shows how such tests, along with traditional genealogy, can reveal unknown parentage, in this case with hip hop performers, Sean Combs and LL Cool J. Recommended viewing even if the attraction of hip hop escapes you.


FamilySearch adds England, Devon Bishop's Transcripts, 1558-1887

These are indexes and images to selected baptisms, marriages and burials for the county of Devon. there are 256,201 records contained in 93,511 images from the Devon Record Office.

There is also a browse capability for those signed in. Unfortunately the files are listed by LDS Film Number in the range 004376119 to 005884964, not by location(s). They could be in alphabetical order by parish, the first is for Abbots Bickington.

Bishop’s transcripts are copies of parish registers, not as reliable as original registers but useful where those are unavailable for one reason or another.

Ulster Historical Foundation presentations in Toronto and Halifax

Fintan Mullan and Gillian Hunt from the Ulster Historical Foundation begin their annual North American lecture tour, which was such a success last year in Ottawa, in Toronto.

The Toronto event, on 5 March is hosted by the Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society and the Canadian Department, North York Central Library. There's further information here.

The tour ends in Halifax (Debert) , Nova Scotia, hosted by the Genealogical Association  of Nova Scotia. Details of the 22 March event are here.

OGS Quinte Branch February Meeting

Bob Dawes presents "Scotland from Abroad", how to use both free and paid websites to trace your Scottish ancestry, as the Saturday 20 February topic for the Quinte Branch monthly meeting.
As usual the event gets underway at the Quinte West City Hall Library in Trenton at 1 pm.
More at www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~canqbogs/.

17 February 2016

Ottawa Heritage Day 2016 and Snow

When I wrote Lett it Snow yesterday I hadn't intend it to be taken so literally. Had I known it's unlikely I'd have gone downtown to Heritage Day at Ottawa City Hall. The return bus journey after the bulk of the snow had fallen was a nightmare.

Mary-Lou Simac and I staffed the BIFHSGO table along with Anne Sterling. Although attendance was down from previous years there was still a good crowd.

Below, from  Environment Canada's Weather Summary on Tuesday evening, are snowfall amounts received as of 6 pm Tuesday:

Ottawa Airport 50 cm
Gatineau Airport 34 cm
Casselman 35 cm as of 6 PM
Moose Creek 21 cm as of 6 PM
Cornwall 20 cm plus several hours freezing rain as of 6 PM
Brockville 35 to 40 cm estimated
Singleton 45 cm
Kemptville 40 to 45 cm estimated
Kingston Airport 31 cm estimated
Trenton Airport 22 cm
Cobourg 15 cm estimated
Welland 15 cm estimated
St Catharines (on escarpment) 22 cm as of 6 PM
Fort Erie 25 cm as of 6 PM

The total snowfall for the day will be greater as snow continued until 9 pm.

In the weather summary Environment Canada wrote this is "a new largest 1 day snowfall amount on record for that location."

Did you ancestors struggle through any of these snow events?

The previous one-day records snowfall was 40.6 cm on 2 March 1947 at the airport while 48.3 cm was recorded at the Central Experimental Farm that day.

Looking back further the greatest one day snowfall at the Farm was 55.9 cm recorded on 29 January 1894.

There was a three day snowfall on 3-5 April 1885 of 101.6 cm.

A sorry chapter in the saga of a new central library

Andrew Z Cohen, who knows a thing or two about libraries, penned an opinion piece in the Ottawa Citizen worth a read. Here's an extract.
If good ideas reach Ottawa long after everywhere else, blame a failure of leadership. So it is with the new public library, a saga of its own.
The mayor has long been uninterested in a new central library, worried that it’s too expensive. The head of Ottawa Public Library, Danielle McDonald, is a career bureaucrat, not a librarian; she lacks the vision of her eminent predecessor, Barbara Clubb.
Completing the Troika of Indifference is the chair of the Ottawa Public Library Board, Coun. Tim Tierney. Now he’s part of the problem, too.
Why Tierney is chair is unclear; his credentials for the position – educational or professional – are not in his biography on his website. His expertise is “business administration/information systems.” 
A professional librarian-manager, the librarian part should come first, could compensate for lack of vision of the other two. Unfortunately Danielle McDonald can't -- and for that the city council that saw fit to appointed her is as much to blame as she is.

OGS Kingston Branch AGM

Members of the Kingston Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society will be flocking to the Society meeting at the Kingston Seniors Centre, 56 Francis St., on Saturday, February 20th at 10 a.m.

This will be the Annual General Meeting plus speaker David Kempson, "My Computer Did What?" and speaker Nancy Cutway, "Families App and Dropbox".

The Kingston Branch covers the City of Kingston and the counties of Frontenac and Lennox-Addington. Visitors from the area or further afield are welcome. Further details at www.ogs.on.ca/kingston

16 February 2016

CEF Service Files Digitization by LAC: February Update

As of 15 February 2016,  254,296 (240,545 last month) of 640,000 files are available online via Library and Archives Canada's Soldiers of the First World War: 1914–1918 database.
The latest box digitized is #4224 (#3962 ) and the surname Hebert (Halliwell).
At the last month rate of digitization the project would be completed in 28 months, by June 2018.

UK Historical Web Archive

The British Library now have a collection online with over 3.5 billion items (urls, images and other documents) that has been full-text indexed by the UK Web Archive. Every word of every website in the collection can be searched for and analysed.

This historical search prototype now spans the period from 1996 to the 6th April 2013, and contains 3,520,628,647 distinct records. -- and is still not and never will be comprehensive.

On the Search page, you can enter search terms and get the results back as a list of pages, presenting more detailed information per page. The result set may be a VERY large number of webpages (possibly millions) and they are NOT ordered by relevance which you may expect with a search engine such as Google. You can narrow down the search by specifying ‘content type’, ‘year of capture’, domain and even Post Code amongst others.

Give it a try with the name of your favourite British genealogist, organization of location. As the results are not ordered by relevance expect to find yourself wading through a lot of miscellaneous material. There was the occasional gem to add historical perspective -- an article on genetic genealogy testing from before the days of autosomal tests.

Start from www.webarchive.org.uk/shine or the UK Wen Archive blog post here.

Warning! This is a research prototype for a web archive search service, and may be taken down at any time

Lett it Snow

With +20 cm of snow in the forecast, perhaps more, perhaps some freezing rain, it's timely to issue a reminder that I will be giving the banquet speech for the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society Gene-O-Rama on Saturday, 2 April on Ottawa weather events and personalities. Here's an example of material I could draw on that I won't have time to fit in.


by William Pittman Lett

The track was deserted, the Station was bare.
Not even a grumbling Cabby was there;
The shriek of the whistle burst not on the gale
To herald the welcome advance of the Mail.
The snow-banks had risen like mountains on high,
And the power of steam was just “all in my eye”
To force its way on through the mighty blockade
'Till they call'd out the Boys of the Rifle Bri¬gade!

With gay buoyant spirits, with jest and with song
Went forth the Battalion full two hundred strong -
Bold followers who ne’er were by danger dismayed
Well taught every branch of the conquering trade;
Whether mining a rampart, or digging a trench
Or punishing Russians along with the French,
Or bursting the banks which the snow-storm had made,
At home were the Boys of the Rifle Brigade!

Expert with the shovel see with glittering steel,
Before them the barriers were soon made to reel:
To the task with a will their attention they gave
No standing at ease in these ranks of the brave.
To the right about face they pitched over the snow
From their oath as if charging with bayonets a foe,
Eyes front, forward march, on with shovel and spade,
And in went the Boys of the Rifle Brigade!

The blockade was broken, on snorted the train,
Cheers rang for the victors again and again,
As the garrison marched out with the honors of war,
With joyous acclaim in each well laden car;
The heroes presented, the Fire-man threw
In the billets and round the machinery flew,
On, on for the Station, the center of trade,
Success to the Boys of the Rifle Brigade!

In peace or in war, if you want a strong arm,
And a stout heart behind it, for good or for harm,
If you seek for a friend, or desire a foe,
With a smash like the kick of a horse in his blow,
Or a sweetheart through love's winning mazes to roam,
Or a Briton to guard the penates of home,
I’ll tell you the spot where you’ll find that same blade,
He's the trim, tidy Boy of the Rifle Brigade!

Ottawa, 2nd March, 1869

Context, by Bryan Cook, author of a recent book on the poet, a major figure in the City of Ottawa's 19th century history.

The coming of the railways to Ottawa in the mid -19th century enhanced Ottawa’s trading links with the rest of North America and the world, and was necessary for its future function as the capital of Canada. The arrival of the mail by train was eagerly awaited and, much like today, the cabs, albeit horse drawn, competed to collect passengers.
   This dependency on the train was made very evident by a major snowstorm early in March of 1869. The Stanstead Journal reported on March 13th 1869: “Ottawa Isolated. The snowstorm, which delayed the trains for Montreal from one to four Days, completely blocked up the track to Ottawa, and for more than a week that city had no communications with the outside world except by telegraph”. (The weather station at Cornwall reported about 20 cm of snow on March 6-7.)
   Lett waxes eloquent about this occasion and the civic role played by the volunteer “boys” of the Ottawa Rifle Brigade in digging out the railway track.
   On May 19th 1855, Royal Assent was given to the new Militia Act passed by the Legislature of the United Canada’s. Previously, the Province had relied on the uncertain availability of British army for defense, supplemented by untrained, poorly equipped and disorganized militias nominally conscripted from the local populace. The Militia Act provided for the formation of volunteer military companies. These included a Field Battery in Ottawa, now known as the Bytown Gunners, and several Volunteer Militia Rifle Companies. The Volunteer Militias played support roles in civic law and order such as containing tense election situations, suppressing riots and providing emergency responses to fire and natural disaster. They were also prominently on parade during societal celebrations such the Queen’s birthday.
   The 1st Ottawa Rifles later co-existed with an infantry battalion of The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa formed in 1866 and known locally as the Carleton Blazers.
    The Blazers were disbanded in 1875 after defensive deployment in Prescott alongside the 1st Ottawa Rifles against the anticipated Fenian Invasion of May 1870. Lett exaggerates when inferring that they were engaged in “punishing Russians along with the French”.
   Lett was a strong supporter of militias, having risen through the ranks to captain the 4th Battalion Carleton Militia in 1858.

The poem’s rhyming couplets, rhythm and simple militaristic imagery make it well suited for popular publication and recital.

“Penates” were Roman gods of the household, and more specifically of the larder or provisions. Lett uses the term in reference to guarding the goods and chattels of home.
“the Fire-man threw/ In the billets and round the machinery flew” refers to stoking the locomotive with wood.

The book is available from the Historical Society of Ottawa and today, Tuesday 16 February at Heritage Day at Ottawa City Hall (weather permitting).

Genealogy à la carte blog second anniversary

Today BIFHSGO member Gail Dever celebrates the second anniversary of her Genealogy à la carte blog which she describes as "genealogy news blog from a Montréal, Québec point de vue."

Congratulations Gail.

She does it on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest too.

15 February 2016

Perth & District Historical Society February Meeting

On Thursday February 18 the Perth & District Historical Society monthly meeting will feature Janet Coward presenting "An Irish Evening"
Things get underway at 7:30 pm, at the Perth Canadian Legion Hall, 26 Beckwith Street East. A voluntary “Toonie Fee” (donation) is suggested.

Throughout 2016, the  four eastern Ontario Municipalities of Beckwith, Drummond/North Elmsley, Perth and Tay Valley  will be celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Canada’s Perth Military Settlement marking the arrival of the first settlers following the War of 1812.

Read all about the celebrations at http://200thanniversary.lanarkcountytourism.com/

Thanks to Karen Hunt for the tip.

Irish Family History Useful Resources

Ireland reaching out asks, are you looking for your Irish ancestors in the right places?

To help they've put online this guide to the best Irish genealogy and archive repositories 

There's not much new for the experienced Irish researcher, but they're all resources that cannot be ignored.

Thanks to Ann Burns in Florida for the hot tip.

14 February 2016

BIFHSGO February Meeting - review

BIFHSGO members are a hardy lot. Despite an extreme cold warning, a temperature of -28.8C at 8 am with wind 33 Kph gusting to 44, about 100 people were gathered in the Chamber at Ben Franklin Place, Nepean by 9 am, to hear Rick Roberts speak on Family Tree Maker (FTM) is NOT Defunct! What do I do now?
His message was "don't panic."  You have plenty of time to decide on an alternate if it's needed. The decision by Software MacKiev to purchase FTM and continue to sell it was welcome although Rick had to field numerous question and comments from those concerned about the prospects. Mine was about the possibility that FTM might again become available through retailers, such as Global Genealogy, in much the same way that Microsoft Office 2013 has been sold through retailers. That would give purchasers a local resource for people sceptical about purchasing from a Ukraine-based company. There are already several Ontario-based retailers for other products of the company.
After the regular 30 minute break there were announcements by BIFHSGO President Barbara Tose including the news that the Maps and Mapping for 21st-Century Genealogists Workshop to be given by James F S Thomson is sold out.
The numbers has swelled considerably for the main presentation A Scandal in Battersea given by S Gail Roger. I always enjoy and learn from Gail's presentations as she researches her own family following every lead through a variety of well known and less-well-known resources. This time they included a search in the Black Sheep Index through the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. She gave a generous shout out to lessons learned from Chris Paton's courses at Pharos Teaching and Tutoring. Judging by the audience size, the enthusiastic reception and applause after the presentation I am not Gail's only fan.

Heritage Day 2016 in Ottawa

The City of Ottawa invites everyone to celebrate Heritage Day this Tuesday 16 February at Jean-Pigott Hall starting at 11:30 am.

BIFHSGO will be there with Mary-Lou Simac leading a team of Anne Sterling and one John Reid at the stand. Stop by and say hello.

Lots of other organization to get to know, including the nascent Kitchissippi Museum. Will there be free scones from Scone Witch again this year?

13 February 2016

Additional British Merchant Seaman Records from Findmypast

The are now 1,192,601 records in the Britain, Merchant Seamen, 1918-1941 at Findmypast. That's over 240,000 additions. The database now includes 4,143 born in Canada. 4,836 in Australia, 2,896 in Norfolk (the geographic specification is finer in the UK)

Information given includes Name, Age, Birth date, Birth place, Birth county.  In some cases there are photographs.

Featured ar Gene-O-Rama 2016

Gene-O-Rama 2016 1-2 April

Lesley Anderson’s 45-year passion for genealogy extends to teaching classes, speaking at seminars and conferences and consulting. Well-known in the genealogical community, she works for Ancestry.ca.

Robert Grandmaître is currently Director of Reference Services Division at Library and Archives Canada (LAC). He is responsible for reference services, including genealogy and the consultation and reproduction of documentary heritage. He has served for over 30 years in various management positions at LAC.

Romaine Honey is a librarian with Ottawa Public Library’s Local History and Genealogy Services. She holds a Masters Degree in Library Science from Western University and has been with OPL for 15 years.

Shirley-Ann Pyefinch has served as the FHC Director for the Ottawa Ontario Stake Family History Centre since 2005. She has spoken at various family history conferences and genealogical societies throughout Ontario.

Rick Roberts family history addiction began during summer vacations on his grandparents’ farm. That early spark grew into a passion for genealogy and history that eventually led to the founding of Global Genealogy in the summer of 1992.

Louise St. Denis is a bilingual international speaker; publisher of the HERITAGE BOOK SERIES
(www.genealogystore.com); and authored 10 books. As Managing Director of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, Louise established an educational program offering comprehensive Certificate programs in Genealogical Studies completed entirely online (www.genealogicalstudies.com).

Nicole Watier is a Genealogy Consultant at Library and Archives Canada. She started working at the National Library of Canada in the year 2000 before joining the Genealogy staff. After assisting LAC clients break through genealogical brick walls, in her free time, she can be found creating away in her art studio.

Glenn Wright had a public service career that spanned more than 30 years. Glenn was employed as an archivist, historical research officer and, for many years, assistant historian with the RCMP. Retired since 2006, he is a frequent speaker at family history and genealogical events throughout Ontario, his special interest being research on Canadian men and women who served in the Great War. He has also been associated with television programs such as “Who Do You Think You Are?”, “Ancestors in the Attic”, and “Engraved on a Nation”.

Details on the 32nd Gene-O-Rama are now available at ogsottawa.on.ca/Gene-O-Rama.

12 February 2016

Free Ancestry access for Canadians this weekend

Until February 15, with registration, Canadians will have free access to all of Ancestry's Canadian records in additional to Global Immigration Records – more than 230 million records.

Ontario Women’s Activism at the Archives

On Thursday February 25, 2016 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Archives of Ontario in Toronto will host a panel discussion organized by HerstoriesCafé, focusing on narratives of women’s activism in Ontario and the roles played by women in shaping communities throughout the province.

HerstoriesCafe bridges women’s history with local history. "We start conversations between history enthusiasts, historians, archivists, museum practitioners, history teachers, and students."

Following the panel discussion, visitors will be invited to view records from the Archives which illustrate the ongoing work of women's activism throughout Ontario's history.

Light refreshments will be offered prior to the talk.

Seating is limited, so please RSVP by emailing events@utschools.ca – for more information about this event, please visit the HerstoriesCafé website.

This is a free event.

RootsTech: too much of a good thing

My first trip, and last, to RootsTech was in 2013 and although enjoyable it was rather overwhelming. That's also the word John Grenham used in reporting on his trip just ended.

What's the problem?

The cost and hassle of getting to and returning from Salt Lake City,
The largely US orientation of the opening keynote sessions
Choosing one of the 15+ parallel session presentations to attend;
Fighting the crowds, 25,000 in attendance, to make your way to a presentation room, if you can find it before it fills up;
The  US/LDS orientation of much of the content
The hype

The pluses for me were:

Some of the more technical sessions, which were not well publicized.
One on one sessions with some other attendees, and with a few of the marketplace exhibitors.

As for presentations, I'll be happy instead with webinars and local opportunities.

So this year I've saved US dollars and will do my spending in UK pounds at WDYTYA? Live which is a more manageable scale, and one I can combine with a family visit.

Ancestry adds Crusheen, County Clare, Ireland, Catholic Records

Ancestry is going full tilt on Irish records. The latest addition is modest, unless you have interest in the parish of Causheen in County Claire in which case these detailed records will be most interesting.

Crusheen, County Clare, Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1860-2014, 15,726 records
Crusheen, County Clare, Ireland, Catholic School Records, 1862-1919, 23,433 records

These are indexed with links to original page images.

BIFHSGO Workshop: Maps and Mapping for 21st Century Genealogists

A reminder about registration this BIFHSGO workshop with James F.S. Thomson. Seats are limited with only 22 places left.  Registration closes March 1st. Do it now to avoid disappointment.

Registration is only available online through the members only section of the BIFHSGO website,

There will be no facilities to register at the meeting this Saturday and no registrations will be accepted by hand. However, if you have already registered and want to pay by cheque, Saturday's meeting provides an easy opportunity to hand your payment to Susan McKenzie at the BIFHSGO table in the lobby.

Here's the detail.

BIFHSGO Workshop: Maps and Mapping for 21st Century Genealogists
    5 March 2016 with James F.S. Thomson
This full day workshop will explore sophisticated ways in which maps and mapping tools can contribute to family history research, analysis and writing. Participants first will learn about a new generation of remarkable online sites permitting the integration of maps and other data. The majority of the workshop will concentrate on learning, through demonstrations and hands-on exercises, how a variety of mapping and other tools can be used creatively and effectively in genealogical projects. The workshop will enable participants to create unique maps, tailored to the needs of the compiler and incorporating data derived from different sources. Above all, this workshop will demonstrate that the current generation of genealogists has no need to limit themselves to the use of static maps created by others, either as research aids or in communicating project outcomes. Resources and examples used in the workshop will be chosen with British Isles research in mind, although the principles and techniques described will be independent of geography.
This workshop is designed for intermediate and advanced-level genealogists who are comfortable using computers and navigating the internet. Having a Google account would be an advantage with respect to part of the workshop, but is not a prerequisite.
Instructor: James F.S. Thomson
James F. S. Thomson has designed and taught over a dozen advanced and expert-level family history courses co-sponsored by Toronto Branch OGS and the Toronto Public Library, including three sold-out runs of the four-session course Maps and Mapping for 21st Century Genealogists. For these courses and in his articles and presentations at conferences and workshops (including workshops on maps and mapping at the 2014 and 2015 OGS conferences), as well as in his capacity as a University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies instructor, James draws on over thirty years of experience of family and local history research.
This workshop will be held at Algonquin College from 9:30 a.m. til 5:00 p.m. on Saturday the 5th of March and will cost $60, including breaks and lunch.