Wednesday, 13 November 2019

FamilySearch Celebrates 125th Anniversary

"What began as a humble state family history society over a century ago, today has blossomed into a global organization that continues to help millions of people make inspiring family connections. FamilySearch, formerly the Genealogical Society of Utah, is celebrating the commencement of its 125th Anniversary today. The international nonprofit is grateful to have played a part in the meteoric rise of consumer interest in family history and helping to enrich the lives of millions of people in ways that were not anticipated in the beginning."

Read the full post from FamilySearch here.

Shannon Lecture: Historical Biography and the Larger Context: The global outlook of Joseph Conrad

The Shannon lecturer this Friday, 15 November 2019 is Dr. Maya Jasanoff

"Prof. Jasanoff will draw on her recent work on Joseph Conrad to discuss the challenges and opportunities of using life stories in writing global history. Literary scholars have long recognized the particular relevance of Conrad’s life story to his writing. Before he became a novelist, Conrad spent twenty years as a professional sailor, travelling to Asia, Africa, and the Americas. These journeys inspired the settings and characters of many of his later works of fiction. Jasanoff will argue that, while historical research can flesh out a picture of Conrad’s life and the sources of his fiction, his life story can, in turn, enrich an understanding of his times as an age of globalization."

For background read How Joseph Conrad foresaw the dark heart of Brexit Britain.

Speaker Bio

Dr. Jasanoff is Coolidge Professor of History at Harvard University, and winner of the 2018 Cundill Prize for The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World. A former Guggenheim Fellow, her research and teaching range from the history of the British Empire to global history and the craft of historical narrative. Her essays and reviews appear frequently in publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, and The New York Review of Books.

The presentation is in Room 2017 in Dunton Tower starting at 1:00pm followed by a reception at 2:30pm.

First World War: war brides

CBC published the story A century ago, a British war bride sailed to Canada. Now her granddaughter shares her story on Remembrance Day quoting BIFHSGO members, Lesley Anderson and Glenn, Wright.

Book Review: A Century of Man-Made Disasters

Perhaps you recall where you were when you heard that the Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded shortly after takeoff. I do. I was in a budget meeting with the forerunner of the Canadian Space Agency. The assignment I was on was cancelled as it was realized space-related activities would be halted — it was well over two years until the next shuttle was launched.
Covered in this book, half photographs, half text, are 15 major man-made 20th-century calamities:

1. The ‘Unsinkable’ Titanic (1912)
2. Five-Train Catastrophe (1915)
3. Brought Down by Pride (1930)
4. End of a Nazi Dream (1937)
5. Nightmare in a Tunnel (1944)
6. Child Victims of Aberfan (1966)
7. Price of the Space Race (1960s)
8. Soccer’s Nightmares (1970S-1980S)
9. Town’s Cloud of Death (1976)
10. Jumbo Jets Collide (1977)
11. Shattered Dream of Space (1986)
12. The Nuclear Nightmare (1986)
13. Calamity in the Channel (1987)
14. Alaska’s Toxic Tragedy (1989)
15. Ferry Families’ Icy End (1994)

Like the Challenger and Titanic, some of these tragedies are household names ... Chernobyl (which Gorbachev cites as the trigger for the fall of the Soviet Union), Exxon Valdez, Hindenberg. Others, like Aberfan and the 1915 Quintinshill rail disaster are more memorable for the main UK readership of Pen and Sword publications. Certainly, there are other disasters, such as Bhopal, that caused greater loss of life than some of those included.
Author Nigel Blundell states these disasters were the result of either folly or greed – or both. Having described the circumstance he well documents the guilty, the grief and those who rose to the challenge of helping — sometimes at the cost of their own life or health.

Series: Images of the Past
Paperback: 160 pages, also available on Kindle.
Publisher: Pen and Sword History (January 19, 2020)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1526748681
ISBN-13: 978-1526748683
Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches

This review is based on a copy provided by Pen and Sword.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Interview with Lucille Campey

While in England for RootsTech London I accepted an invitation from Lucille and Geoff Campey to visit at their home in Wiltshire.
Ottawa-born Lucille is the author of many books on Scottish, English and Irish immigration to Canada. She has often spoken in Ottawa. Geoff, as well as being her spouse is her business manager, draws maps and compiles supplemental material for the books.
We spoke of how she became fascinated by the topic, inspired by a visit to Belfast on Prince Edward Ireland, and Lucille explained why she believes some aspects of the subject have become misrepresented.
Lucille's next book, on Irish immigration to Western Canada with an overview of her two previous books on Irish immigration, is due for publication in September 2020 when we hope to welcome Geoff and Lucille back to Ottawa.

Historical Society of Ottawa Evening Lecture by Phil Jenkins

On Thursday 14 November, at 7 pm Phil Jenkins will present Discovering The History Around Us

Since 1978, after emigrating from Liverpool and returning to Ottawa where he grew up in the 1950s, Phil Jenkins has worked as a newspaper columnist, travel writer, author and a performing songwriter across Canada. He was a freelance columnist (over eight hundred columns) for the Ottawa Citizen from 1991 to 2017. He writes for magazines (National Geographic Traveller; Equinox; Wedding Bells: Canadian Geographic: Ottawa Magazine: Toronto Life) and about the Canadian landscape in books via the national non-fiction bestsellers Fields of Vision, An Acre of Time, River Song: Sailing the History of the St. Lawrence, and, Beneath My Feet: The Memoirs of George Mercer Dawson. There are also two commissioned books, on the Ottawa Public Library and the Civic Heart Institute. Phil teaches and lectures in writing, the Canadian landscape and Ottawa history, including a 10-year stint as a lecturer at Carleton University. As a solo musician, songwriter and member of the Wakefield band Riverbend, he produced the albums Car Tunes and Making Waves, and a solo album Noteworthy. He lives in a straw bale house in the Gatineau Hills of Quebec, on the Gatineau River.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Irish War of Independence pensions

If you had a relative who served in the Defence Forces in Ireland from 1922 onwards or received a medal or pension for service during the Easter Rising or War of Independence, there may be a reference to them within the genealogy section of the Military Archives website at

According to an update an additional 1,540 records were recently added including those of 313 women who fought for independence in Cumann na mBan, the women’s paramilitary organization, nine veterans of the 1916 Easter Rising, and 45 members of the Irish Republican Army and Cumann na mBan in Manchester. This release brings the number of individuals whose files are now available online up to 9,555 entries for individuals (representing over 28,700 files).

The files are available at collections/online-collections/military-service-pensions-collection-1916-1923/

Remembrance Day: Canadian Forestry Corps

Established on 14 November 1916 The Canadian Forestry Corps (CFC) provided lumber for the Allied war effort by cutting and preparing timber in the United Kingdom and on the continent of Europe in both the First World War and the Second World War. Forestry units also cleared terrain for the construction of installations such as airfields and runway, prepared railway ties, as well as lumber for the creation of barracks, road surfaces, ammunition crates, trench construction, etc. These units were sometimes called on in the First World War to perform as infantry. Read more about the CFC here.
435 CFC men are listed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as First World War casualties. 174 have their final resting place in the UK, 138 in France, and 110 in Canada.
Their average age at death was 32.
The first to die was 52-year-old Sergeant Richard Goodin, buried at Spencesville Union Cemetery in Eastern Ontario. He was the first of three who died before the CFC was officially established.
Private Albert E. Freeman, age 36, was the last to die. He is interred at North Battleford Cemetery.
The oldest was 67-year old Corporal George G. Hunter who died of pneumonia on 9 September 1919 and is interred at Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver.
The youngest recorded by the CWGC was Private James G. Isbester (sometimes Gordon James), age 17, who died in hospital in Brockville, Ontario on 18 February 1918 and is buried at Dinorwic Cemetery, Ontario.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Juno Beach Memorial Bridge

On the morning of Friday 8 November 2019, there was a renaming ceremony of Ottawa's Airport Parkway Pedestrian Bridge to the Juno Beach Memorial Bridge. It was cold (-3C) with an appropriately blustery wind reminiscent of conditions on the Normandy coast on D-Day, 6 June 1944.

In attendance and making remarks were, from the left, Tom Irvine, Dominion President of the Royal Canadian Legion, Meriel Beament Bradford of the Juno Beach Centre, local Councillor Riley Brockington who was Emcee and the Mayor of Ottawa Jim Watson.
Also present were Heather Dawson, mother, and family of young Kenny Dagenais who died at the location while trying to cross the Parkway on 22 October 2007. His tragic death led to the building of the bridge crossing which opened in November 2014.
The plaque unveiled will be installed at a later date.

FreeBMD September and October updates

Here, very much delayed, is information about two updates to the FreeBMD Database.

On 23 September 2019 there was an update to contain 271,711,912 unique records (271,399,052 at previous update). With the latest 23 October update there are now 272,099,029 unique records.

Years with major additions, greater than 10,000 records cumulatively, are: for births 1984-88; for marriages 1969, 1980, 1984-87; for deaths 1984-86 and 1988.

Sunday Sundries

Miscellaneous items I found of interest during the week.

Remembrance Day
In Canada, according to Veterans Affairs Canada, 11 November is "in remembrance for the men and women who have served, and continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace." That's in contrast to the original role as a day "to remember the members of the armed forces who died in the line of duty." This troubles me. We honour veterans, but I regret the loss of dedication of the one day, 11 November, to those who died in service.

Half off OGS Membership
Six people have taken advantage of my offer to match existing OGS members with those wanting to newly join. I still have a few members who would like to partner with new members. See this previous blog post.

FREE Access to All Databases on from Tuesday, November 12 through Tuesday, November 19
Information from Dick Eastman's blog.

The Wikipedia Of Graves: Israeli App CemoMemo Brings Cemeteries Into The Digital World
A collaborative documentation platform for gravestones, beyond BillionGraves and Find A Grave.

"Justice as Witness: New Perspective on Jewish Polish Relations during the German Occupation"
The Ottawa Historical Association's next presentation of its 2019-20 Speaker Series is by Marie-Dominique Asselin at the Ottawa Art Gallery (50 Mackenzie King Bridge) on Tuesday, 12 November. The presentation will begin at 7:15 p.m. Marie-Dominique Asselin is completing her PhD in history at the University of Ottawa and is a postdoctoral fellow at the Polish Center for Holocaust Research.

Five ways commuting on the London Underground has and hasn’t changed in the last century
Will Ottawa's LRT be keeping these types of statistics over the years? Notice they don't include information about breakdowns and delays.

How Pete Buttigieg is reviving the pragmatic, progressive ideals of the Social Gospel movement

Stairway To Heaven' Flashmob

Smells like Digital Preservation (parody)

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Ancestry adds Brompton Cemetery Registers

Burial records from Brompton Cemetery in London, one of Britain's oldest and most distinguished garden cemeteries, are the most recent addition to Ancestry.
The registers, which run from 1840 - 2012, contain 204,827 records. A search produces transcribed name, birth year, burial date and a link to view an image of the original record with additional information.
This is not the first time Brompton records have been made available online. In January 2018 Findmypast added 645,301 Brompton cemetery records, "both transcripts and images of documents digitized from the original register held by the UK National Archives at Kew in series WORK 97."
These records also continue to be available through which has over 8 million London cemetery records in its collection.

Findmypast adds military records

Britain, The Great War, I Was There
The Great War: I Was There is a magazine that was first published in 1938 mainly consisting of first-hand accounts and previously unpublished images. Its 51 editions ran from 29 September 1938 to 19 September 1939, 1,186 pages available to view as pdfs.
You can search by name and optional keywords. Hits are initially shown by the page number with no preview; you need to view the pdf — search terms are not highlighted.

Burma Star Association Membership Forms
Search over 53,000 membership forms of the Burma Star Association, to become a full member of the Association, an ex-Serviceman, ex-Servicewoman or Nurse must have been awarded the Burma Campaign Star for service in Burma during World War 2 for the necessary qualifying period or the Pacific Star with Burma Clasp.

The Association is Tri-Service and for members of The Merchant Navy who hold the Burma Star with permanent representatives from the Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force and Royal British Legion on the National Council.

Each records includes both a transcript and an image of the original form. Transcripts show application year, ship/unit, status and residence while images will provide rank, service number, address and signature.

Dekho, Burma Star Association
Over 4,000 records of members of the Burma Star Association. Dekho! Is the journal of the Burma Star Association. Published three times a year it informs members of the Association who are unable to get out and meet their comrades about events that are going on in the Burma Star Association. These editions run from 1951 to 2018.

New Co-Lab challenge launched on National Aboriginal Veterans Day

The following is from Library and Archives Canada

In this week of remembrance, Library and Archives Canada is highlighting the sacrifices made by Indigenous soldiers by launching a Co-Lab challenge on correspondence regarding First Nations veterans returning after the First World War

By transcribing, translating, tagging or describing the records in this challenge, you give families a chance to access information about their relatives for the first time. How? When you transcribe the name of a soldier, it appears in the Collection search results and therefore makes it available.
The Co-Lab challenge records feature many fascinating and heart-wrenching passages such as: “I beg to report the return of John Walter Anderson of Gordons Reserve, from overseas. […] Received a gunshot wound on left leg at the battle of Amiens.”

Library and Archives Canada hopes to preserve the legacy of Canada’s veterans and their efforts for future generations, by remembering those who served. Read some of their stories on our blog We will be releasing new blog posts over the next few days.

Want to do more? Find any digitized object in our collection and open it for crowdsourcing in Co-Lab so anyone can work on them. Locate any digital object in Collection Search by clicking on “Advanced Search” and selecting “yes” under “available online.” Click to open the digital object in the viewer, then follow the steps under the image.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Ancestry free access to Canadian military records

From 08 Nov 2019 to 11 Nov 2019 at 11:59 p.m. ET Ancestry is providing free access to all its Canadian military records. Registration required.

Hackney Area Lloyd George Domesday records added to TheGenealogist’s Map Explorer™

A press announcement from TheGenealogist.
TheGenealogist has just released the Hackney maps and field books into its property ownership and occupancy record set, The Lloyd George Domesday Survey. Family historians can use this unique online resource to see where an ancestor lived in the 1910-1915 period for a number of areas and will extend out across the country in time.
These records make use of TheGenealogist’s powerful new Map Explorer™ to access the maps and residential data, so that those who want to discover where their ancestors lived in the period before the First World War are able to see the district as it was in that period. Because these large scale maps include plots for the exact properties and are married to various georeferenced historic map overlays and modern base maps on the Map Explorer™,by using the opacity controls researchers can see how the land has changed. 
The Lloyd George Domesday Survey records are sourced from The National Archives and are being digitised by TheGenealogist.

This release includes the following areas: Clapton, Dalston, Hackney, Homerton, Hornsey South, Hoxton, Kingsland, Moorfields, South Hackney, Stamford Hill, Stoke Newington and West Hackney.
● TheGenealogist’s Lloyd George Domesday Survey records zoom down to show individual
properties on extremely detailed maps used in 1910-1915
● Fully searchable by name, county, parish and street
● The transparency slider reveals a modern street map underlay
● Change the base map displayed to more clearly understand what the area looks like today
Read about how the Hackney Landowner and Occupier records detail the last days of a
Highwayman’s Inn

Scanning Vernon's Directories at LAC

Women on a mission. From last April to next September Sally Mansell (seated) and Diann Wells are busy in Ottawa, at Library and Archives Canada. They are on the front line imaging Ontario City Directories in a cooperative project between LAC, OGS and FamilySearch.

Scanning is just part of the project. Before they became involved the project had been scoped to estimate the time and resources needed — very much an estimate based largely on the thickness of the book.

The book scanning equipment they use adjusts to preserve the binding and lay the pages flat. In some cases, it's almost too late. Scanning page by page you never know what you may discover. Whole sections may have become unbound. Some are in such bad shape that they don't scan them until just before the weekly vacuuming of their area which picks up the page fragments (chaff).

As well as a hardcopy scanner there's also a microfilm scanner for the few directories uniquely available in that format. Once scanned they, along with two local part-timers, are responsible to audit the work making sure the images are as clear as possible, aligned and no pages have been missed.

The computer files then go to Utah for further auditing, and possible retakes in Ottawa, and then on to OCR so that we users can find where our great-grandparents lived in 1910 just by searching for the name.

To date, 198 volumes have been scanned and are now online — Another 231 volumes are in Utah ready to go online soon (hopefully). Currently, the project is working on Hamilton directories which is one of the largest collections. Guelph is another large collection to come. If you're concerned that you might not find a volume you want to consult when you visit LAC don't be. When I was there about half a shelf of Hamilton directories had been taken for scanning and were replaced by a note that a volume could be promptly retrieved by asking at the consultation desk.

Immediately before coming to Ottawa both Sally and Diann had been on a one-week course to learn procedures. They both spoke warmly about enjoying their time in Ottawa so far, perhaps with a certain hesitancy with the approach of winter which would be unlike the climate they experience at home in Texas and Oregon.

Thanks to Diann and Sally for showing me and explaining their project, and to D Michael Hanson, FamilySearch Image Capture Operations Manager for the U.S. and Canada who facilitated my visit.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

GRO adds recent death indexes

The General Register Office for England and Wales has added online indexes for deaths registered between 1984 to 2019. The search is still limited -- you can only search +/- 2 years and must specify sex as well as surname. Go to -- registration required.

Sadly death indexes for 1958 to 1983 are not available. A good part of that period is covered by FreeBMD.

Be prepared: free access weekend will be free (with registration) from midday GMT (7 am ET) on Friday, 8 November to 12:00 midday GMT on Monday, 11 November.
All of Findmypast’s records are included except:

All newspapers
The Periodical Source Index (PERSI)
UK Electoral Registers & Companies House Directors 2002-2019

FamilySearch England records updates

These may not be major additions — since the start of the month FamilySearch has updated the titles:

Herefordshire Bishop's Transcripts, 1583-1898, now with 1,047,525 records
Oxfordshire Parish Registers 1538-1904, with 27,452 records
Yorkshire Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1613-1887, with 1,406 records.

Obsessive or slob genealogist?

Are you an obsessive genealogist? Are your family history files all stored in coloured coded folders neatly arrayed in a cabinet, on a bookshelf or your computer? Have you made sure all the geographic locations in your files are in a consistent accepted format? Does every one of the facts in those files include a complete source citation? Do you assiduously back up your computer files and ensure the files remain accessible as technology changes? Have you spent hundreds of hours making things just right?

Or are you a slob genealogist? Does your filing system consist of throwing each document you have into a large box or computer file labelled "family history"? Maybe they're scattered who knows where? Do you figure citations don't matter because if you found the information without one, so can others with the benefit of the clues you leave? The fun is in the hunt so do you minimize the time spent recording source details — without them, you can experience the excitement of discovery all over again, a game of documentary hide and seek?

BIFHSGO November Meeting

The meeting on Saturday 9 November has a military theme.

At 9 am Ken McKinlay and Glenn Wright will offer tips on meeting the challenge of navigating the UK National Archives site and its military records. You are invited to bring your queries.

At 10 am, following announcements, Dominique Boulais will speak on The Commonwealth War Graves Commission: In Perpetuity
The Commission’s duties are to mark and maintain the graves of Commonwealth soldiers who died in the two world wars, to build and maintain memorials to the dead whose graves are unknown, and to keep records and registers. He will talk about the Commission’s history, fundamental principles, mandate and worldwide responsibilities. He will outline the Commission's Canadian Agency’s responsibilities within the Americas with an emphasis on its work in genealogy.
I attended a similar talk by Dominique over a year ago. As Commemorations and External Relations Manager of the Canadian Agency, which is responsible for all sites in the Americas, he is very knowledgeable. You will find this presentation well worth your time.

As usual, the event is at The Chamber, Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive, Ottawa, Ontario

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

74,152 County Claire records added to RootsIreland

Clare Heritage and Genealogical Centre have added 74,152 records to their database at They include Roman Catholic baptisms and marriages, civil births and deaths, gravestone inscriptions and, marriage and death notices from the Clare Journal 1778-1917. is a subscription site. You can subscribe for as short a period as 24 hours.

THE Genealogy Show 2020 Speakers announced

Keynote speakers for the 2nd year of THE Genealogy Show being held Friday 26th & Saturday 27th June 2020 at The National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, UK are announced. They are Celia Heritage, Fiona Fitzsimons, Maureen Taylor and  Roberta Estes.

There are 21 other speakers, including 3 Canadians — Lynn Palermo, Mags Gaulden and Ruth Blair.

See the complete list, follow the news, see details and register at

Shannon Lecture: Feminism and the Supreme Court

The presentation on Friday, 8 November 2019 “Feminism and the Supreme Court: How the first two women appointed to our Top Court widened judicial debates” is given by Dr. Constance Backhouse

Dr. Backhouse will discuss Bertha Wilson and Claire L’Heureux-Dubé, the first two women appointed to Canada’s top court (1982 and 1987 respectively) who are the subjects of her recently-published Two Firsts.  Despite completely different backgrounds and personalities, the two women found their paths strewn with virtually identical blockages throughout their years in law school and law practice; as women judges, they were frequently mocked and repudiated.  Throughout their careers, they met the sexism they experienced with courage and fierce tenacity, and their achievements have given them the stature of “icons” in Canadian women’s history. This presentation will ask challenging questions about their perspectives on feminism and race, in an effort to reconsider what full “diversity and inclusion” might encompass.

Constance Backhouse is Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa, who teaches and researches in the areas of legal history, criminal law, human rights, feminism, and critical race theory.  Her writing attempts to document historical efforts to dismantle discrimination on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, disability, and sexual identity.

The talk is in Room 252 MacOdrum Library starting at 1:00pm followed by a reception at 2:30pm. All are welcome.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Interns

Do you have a grandchild or other young family member interested in military history? Applications are now being sought to join the 2020 Commonwealth War Graves Foundation interns programme working in France and Belgium. Check it out at
Dominique Boulais, with the CWGC in Ottawa and speaker at Saturday's BIFHSGO meeting, informs me the most important criteria is the person must have the right to work in the EU; some Canadians would certainly qualify.
I'm wondering how BREXIT would impact the Brits eligibility if it goes through this year.

Legacy Webinar: Understanding Ethnicity Estimates

The pick of this week's Legacy Family Tree Webinar's is a 2 pm ET on Wednesday is Understanding Ethnicity Estimates presented by Mary Eberle.
Learn how and when ethnicity estimates can be useful. Several case studies where ethnicity estimates helped solve the genealogy mystery will be covered. This talk covers: 1. How ethnicity estimates are generated and the ancestral timeframe they reflect 2. Differences between the DNA testing companies 3. Additional tools to further explore ethnicity estimates 4. How to identify situations in which they can be very helpful 5. Several examples where ethnicity estimates helped solve a genealogy mystery will be covered.

Mary Eberle, JD (why do so many leading people in the US genetic genealogy community have a law degree?) is a DNA expert who founded DNA Hunters,® LLC in 2015. She is also an educator, an international speaker, and the author of “23 Best Tips for DNA Testing and Family History.”  Mary is a retired patent attorney with extensive DNA experience. Over 30 years ago, she began her scientific career. She developed DNA tests for transplant patients. Today, she leads the DNA Hunters team, which finds people’s biological parent and grandparents.

Find A Grave Index Update

Find A Grave, a wholly-owned subsidiary of, promotes itself as the world’s largest gravesite collection with over 180 million memorials created by the community since 1995.
With an update on Ancestry on 1 November, the exact number is 181,584,856. 82% are in the USA, followed by Global including burials at sea (7.4%), UK and Ireland (3.7%), then Canada (3.5%.)

Australia and New Zealand1800s-Current5442567
UK and Ireland1300s-Current6,687,310

For those who turn first to obits in the newspaper, Find A Grave has a list of recent deaths of famous people from around the world.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Irish rainfall is always above average

So it's not scientifically accurate but John Grenham captures the emotion in a recent blog post.

What captured my interest, as a meteorologist-family historian, was the paragraph

The Irish Met Office is starting to recover past weather, digitising reports made daily since 1840 in the Phoenix Park (though the results are not yet public). They also have an excellent guide to the locations of historic Irish weather archives and a very interesting day-by-day reconstruction of the weather of the week of the Easter Rising in 1916.
Let's hope those digitized reports become freely available online, not hidden behind a paywall or only available inside the Irish Met Office.

Were our great-grandparents happier than ourselves?

In October Nature Human Behaviour published an article suggesting the British of the late 19th and very early 20th centuries, our great-grandparents, were happier, or at least as happy as the British are today. That's despite the much higher infant mortality and shorter lifespan at that time than now with (the legacy of?) the welfare state.

The article "Historical analysis of national subjective wellbeing using millions of digitized books" is behind a paywall but an earlier pdf version is openly available here. The abstract reads:

In addition to improving quality of life, higher subjective wellbeing leads to fewer health problems, higher productivity, and better incomes. For these reasons subjective wellbeing has become a key focal issue among scientific researchers and governments. Yet no scientific investigator knows how happy humans were in previous centuries. Here we show that a new method based on quantitative analysis of digitized text from millions of books published over the past 200 years captures reliable trends in historical subjective wellbeing across four nations.This method uses psychological valence norms for thousands of words to compute the relative proportion of positive and negative language, indicating relative happiness during national and international wars, financial crises, and in comparison to historical trends in longevity and GDP. We validate our method using Eurobarometer survey data from the 1970s onwards and in comparison with economic, medical, and political events since 1820 and also use a set of words with stable historical meanings to support our findings. Finally we show that our results are robust to the use of diverse corpora (including text derived from newspapers) and different word norms.

The figure shows the steady climb to the late 19th century, a levelling off (corresponding to the period of high immigration), precipitous drops associated with the two world wars. Post WW2 there is a rapid rebound although a considerable difference between the index based on books and that based on periodicals.

The article shows similar data for the US, Germany and Italy.

It would be interesting to see if the trends could be reproduced by analysis of letters and diaries.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

OGS Membership

It's that time of year again, genealogical and family history society directors look optimistically, yet apprehensively, at the numbers as membership renewals arrive. It's no secret that many, not all, societies have membership numbers in decline. Ontario Ancestors, The Ontario Genealogical Society is one as is the UK Society of Genealogists — I'm a member of both — and BIFHSGO.

The OGS 2020 membership renewal season began on 1 November and has incentives to encourage renewal — and new membership — as well as a growing list of ongoing membership benefits. These include various discounts: a special low price for subscriptions to MyHeritage Library Edition, the UK's Family Tree Magazine and History Scotland magazine. There's more.

If you renew by 30 November there's an early bird prize draw.

Again this year under the "Grow Our Family" program if a member partners with someone who has not been a member during the past two years (2018 or 2019), they can each get a 2020 membership and BOTH will receive a 50% discount.

Also again this year if you qualify and would like to take advantage of the "Grow Our Family" program, but don't have someone to partner with, send me an email at john dot d dot reid at gmail dot com and I'll attempt to match you — first come first served. No guarantees.

Sunday Sundries

Miscellaneous items I found of interest during the week.

Why Trust Finnish DNA Ethnicity More than German
From Your DNA Guide, which regions of Europe are more (and less) likely to be identified correctly. Includes a comment on lack of transparency by Living DNA that —  purports to “breakdown your ancestry with unrivalled worldwide regional and sub-regional detail.”

OGS eWeekly Update
Do you subscribe to this free newsletter? I do, usually finding something of interest; yesterday's especially so. Read it, and previous issues, from the list here. Then subscribe so you don't miss future issues.

Advances in anti-ageing research: how chemistry could hold the key to better health
Break out the red wine and chocolate.

Five common words we’re all using incorrectly

Late Night (film)
I rarely watch movies but on my flight back from England saw Late Night, a 2019 release. The ageing woman English-origin host of a late-night talk show is told she will be fired from the role she's had for 10 years by the woman head of the network and is saved by a young minority woman staff writer who joins the otherwise all-male writing team.

Techno-fix futures will only accelerate climate chaos

Will There Be Wine After Climate Change?
Vintners may have to adjust their centuries-old traditions to keep the wines flowing — limitation of traditional knowledge.

Winter Watch
Next Wednesday, 6 November is the earliest date when a temperature below -10C has ever been recorded in Ottawa, in 1951. 8 November is the latest date when temperature above 20C has ever been recorded in Ottawa, in 1938.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Many More Names in TONI

The total record count for TONI, The Ontario Name Index, now stands at  6,657,369 records. That's a big jump thanks to ingesting the entire index data file of about 661,000 servicepersons (nurses included) who served in the First World War.
If a search finds a CEF serviceperson of interest, indicated by record type “Military” in the index, a hyperlink leads directly to the LAC site where you can view the attestation paper and find a link to the digitized service file.
Visit TONI at
The addition, which includes all those in the CEF database, not just those from Ontario, was made possible through an Open Data Project hosted by Library & Archives Canada.
Thanks to OGS Director David Thompson for the tip.

FamilyTreeDNA (US) Thanksgiving Sale

If you wait for a sale to buy a DNA test with FamilyTreeDNA now until 28 November is your opportunity.
There are discounts on all tests, including upgrades.
Find the details at

In previous years FTDNA has had a Christmas (Holiday) sale starting soon after this one ends. Who knows what the price will be then; take advantage of this if you want to avoid the seasonal rush and processing delays.

Findmypast weekly update

1801 Lancashire, Liverpool Census
Finding an 1801 census is unusual so the over 13,000 new and exclusive early census records, each with a transcript and original image and usually including first name, last name, occupation, street, ward and place, is special. Sadly there are no ages given.
The source is a manuscript document at the Athenaeum, Liverpool. Find background and statistical analysis in the document Liverpool in 1901: A manuscript return for the first National Census of Population by P. Laxton.

Cornwall Burials
Over 75,000 transcript records added covering 52 parishes across the Cornish peninsula means this title now has over 280,000 records covering over two hundred parishes. The transcripts are sourced from the Cornwall Family History Society.

Kent Burials
12,000 records added for Swanscombe municipal cemetery makes the county total over 2.4 million.

New Zealand, Women's Suffrage Petition
41,614 transcript records of those, men as well as women, who supported the women’s suffrage movement in New Zealand in the 1890s.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Long Lost Family

While in England I had the chance to view part of two episodes of this ITV, Ancestry sponsored, programme.
The first was a special on the search for the remains of British soldiers killed during the First World War with no known graves. The programme follows the work of an elite all-female team at the Ministry of Defence known as the `War Detectives", whose job is to locate the final resting places of 500,000 service personnel who lost their lives during the conflict.
Although not clear it appears mitochondrial and Y-DNA are being used, but not autosomal DNA for which there is a much larger database. It could be these cases explored predated the more recent development of techniques for its recovery from degraded remains.

The second was on twins separated and meeting again.

Earlier episodes can be viewed on YouTube by searching for "Long Lost Family."

YourGenealogy Today: Nov/Dec 2019

Dwelling in the Past: Going Home to an Ancestral Cottage
Joe Grandinetti recounts his recent stay at the cottage of his great grandfather's youth.
Becoming a Certified Genealogist
Diane L. Richard looks at credentialing for genealogists in the USA.
Holiday Traditions
Leslie Michele Derrough looks at five ways family history is part of the season in the USA.
Imperfect Reflections: Visualizing Your Ancestors
Sue Lisk looks at resources that might help you catch a glimpse of your ancestors when photos are scarce. Comment: One day an option may be picturing an ancestor from their reconstructed DNA.
Save Your Receipts... For Your Genealogy
David A. Norris looks at the collection of paper receipts, slips and vouchers that mark a trail through a family's history with USA examples.
Researching Road Records and Finding Family
Diane L. Richard says there's a lot to discover about our ancestors who built the nation's roads in the USA.
Surrounding Yourself With Family After They Are Gone
Lynn Cassity offers some insight into saving at least some of the important items that are left after the passing of a family member with USA examples.
The Value of Spilt Milk: Handling Errors in Research
Sue Lisk looks at how we handle errors in our research with an eye on learning from the experience.
Taking Your Memoir From Stuck... to Finished
Karen Dustman offers tips to help overcome the inevitable stumbling blocks in writing your life story. Here are some of the possible prompts to spark happy memories she mentions: What’s the most crazy-adventurous thing you ever did as a child? What was the best gift anyone ever gave you?  Which books inspired you as a child? What simple tools or objects do you remember your parents using -- maybe things that you don’t typically use today?
The Camden Point Female Academy
Lynn Cassity looks at the history and determination of Missouri pioneers who built and rebuilt a school to educate their daughters
The Back Page
Dave Obee says don't overlook digitized newspapers when researching hard-to-find kin. Canadian content!

Although this issue is virtually devoid of Canadian stories there is advice that's generally relevant the US content may reveal techniques of wider applicability.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Last Minute Cancellation: Second 2019 Shannon Lecture

Due to heavy winds in Buffalo, Shannon Lecturer Cecil Foster's flight has been cancelled and thus his lecture on Friday 1 November is cancelled. A new date is to be scheduled.

RootsTech London Wrap-up

Despite there being several other interesting-looking family history events in the UK and Ireland this year I decided to make RootsTech London my choice over a year ago when it was first announced. I applied and was accepted as an Ambassador, for which I received free admission, with part of my obligation being to write this concluding summary. You probably noticed I also gave the event a lot of mention in blog posts this year, and I’m glad I did as everyone I spoke to there really enjoyed the experience.

Australian Ambassador/Blogger Jill Ball interviews one of the
many helpful LDS staff
I'd arranged a Canadian meetup at a pub attached to the hotel where I was staying on the Wednesday prior to the opening, as had the Australians. The Australian event was much more crowded — there were something like 60 of them at RootsTech. Although I didn’t get a number for Canadian attendees we had 10 at the meetup and I met others.

On Thursday morning at a breakfast hosted by Ancestry Ambassadors were told about recent developments with the company and what they’re going to be doing in the future. Naturally, DNA was mentioned, with the updated ethnicity estimates. There is a big emphasis coming on European records in 2020 as well as the 75th anniversary of World War II. Will there be any Canadian records?

The ExCeL exhibition facility, close to London City Airport on the North-side of the Thames, is a long building with an underground stop at each end. The part used for RootsTech was at the Eastern end. I got a fair bit of exercise walking back and forth from my hotel which was of the Western end. Fortunately, the weather was cooperative, not too cold and one could walk inside the first day. On Friday and Saturday the UK’s biggest gaming event, EGX London MCM Comic Con had probably over 100,000 attendees meaning access to the western end was restricted.

Daniel Horowitz conducts a draw at the MyHeritage stand
RootsTech registration was a model of efficiency. We had been sent name tags by email and asked to print them out to ease the registration process. I'd done so but then had a small issue — a Canadian excuse better than ”the dog ate my homework.” I’d brought some maple syrup over for relatives, something they've come to expect, but one of the containers leaked on my printed pass. Fortunately, it was no problem to print another and it took only a couple of minutes to collect everything I'd needed including a backpack you’ll probably see me using.

The speaker for my first session, 1 of 11 in that timeslot, was Angie Bush on DNA Tools Everyone Can Use! She emphasized that none of the tools provides proof that a particular relationship is correct or not and recommended joining the “What Are the Odds?” Facebook Group. For and most of the other presentations there’s written background at — go to Agenda, then Schedule.

The other presentations I attended on Thursday were:
Exploring ethnicity estimates, by Debbie Kennett
The Psychology of Searching - why are you looking for dead people? By Penny Walters
Remember Then: memories of 1946-1969 and how to write your own by Janet Few
On-line Church Court Records: a Neglected Genealogical Source by Colin Chapman

On Friday:
A day in the life of an Ancestry ProGenealogist with Joe Buggy, Celia Heritage, Ursula Krause, Janette Silverman
FamilySearch Records: the Most Valuable Collections for Your Family History by David Ouimette
My Ancestor Was A Liar: Ignorance, Half-truths & Wilful Deceit by David Annal
Examining your DNA matches with DNA Painter by Jonny Perl
DNA Testing Panel Discussion with John Cleary, Maurice Gleeson, Laura House, Debbie Kennett, Michelle Leonard, Donna Rutherford

Saturday Keynote speaker Donny Osmond is flanked by LDS
staff while moving between interviews
On Saturday:
Inferred matching techniques for chromosome mapping by Jonny Perl
Staying alive! The making of history video clips for preserving family memories. By Marc Jarzebowski
The Power of Siblings by Donna Rutherford
When family trees and DNA results combine: The world of Ancestry DNA communities by Crista Cowan
Behind the headline with Live podcast recording by Brad Argent and Michala Hulme

Each day there was a keynote session in a huge auditorium large enough for all attendees. For Ambassadors, there was reserved seating a few rows back from the front although everyone had a good view from multiple large screens. The best of these was the Thursday session by Dan Snow. View all the Keynotes at

Did you ever see as large a fan chart?
As if that wasn’t enough there were lots of shorter presentations in the Exhibition Hall with free admission. Often Ancestry, FindmyPast and FamilyTree Maker would have simultaneous presentations at their stands. Ancestry had as many as 14 presentations each day. There were two additional areas for Exhibition Hall presentations, ask the expert areas, an area with activities appealing to youngsters, computers with self-service and more. If I was living in London I’d find it worthwhile to travel just to visit the Exhibition Hall.

Connecting with other attendees was an education: the person who through a DNA test found her father was not her father, a New Zealander whose father was on the same ship on which my father was sunk by a Germain raider in the Pacific in 1940, chatting with Canadian Penny Allen who lives in London working as a librarian, and making a connection with a fifth cousin once removed attendee via the FamilySearch Family Tree app.

Without hesitation, I’d rate this as the most successful family history event I’ve ever attended — and I’ve been to a few. It was big enough to offer lots of choices, small enough that you weren’t overwhelmed by the crowds as I felt the one time I attended RootsTech in Salt Lake City. And there was lots of British content along with more generic presentations.

I along with many others certainly hope it won’t be the last RootsTech London.

British Newspaper Archive additions for October

The British Newspaper Archive now has a total of  34,474,211 pages online (33,933,719 last month). 31 papers (37 last month) had pages added in the past month. There were 12 (14) new titles. Dates range from 1801 to 1998.

The 17 newspapers with more than 10,000 pages added during the month are:

Aberdeen Evening Express1997-1998
Aberdeen Press and Journal1997-1998
Arbroath Guide1844-1845, 1847-1882, 1884, 1886-1925, 1927-1932, 1934-1949, 1951-1959
British Press1803-1812, 1814-1822, 1824-1826
Broughty Ferry Guide and Advertiser1906-1920, 1931-1959
Express (London)1846-1868
Huntly Express1864-1865, 1867-1868, 1870-1872, 1874-1879, 1881-1912
National Register (London)1808-1809, 1811-1823
North British Daily Mail1847-1848, 1857, 1859-1860, 1863, 1872-1874, 1876-1878, 1883, 1889, 1891-1893, 1895-1897, 1899-1900
Perthshire Constitutional & Journal1835-1839, 1843, 1850, 1859-1869, 1872-1875, 1877-1878, 1882, 1893-1916
Sandwell Evening Mail1987
Staffordshire Sentinel1986-1988, 1991-1992
Star (London)1801-1831
Statesman (London)1806, 1809-1815, 1818-1824
Strathearn Herald1863-1892, 1894, 1897-1980, 1986
Sun (London)1804, 1836, 1839, 1841-1842, 1844-1848, 1850, 1865-1867, 1869-1871
West Lothian Courier1969-1974, 1977-1980

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Ancestry adds Scotland, Ireland and Wales, Militia Attestation Papers, 1800-1915

NOTE: As of 1 November this database is no longer showing in the Ancestry Card Catalog!

New to Ancestry on 29 October, although plagued by availability and search problems when I tried it, this collection of 129,682 records covers militia attestation from the Napoleonic era to the start of the Great War.
Drawn from collection WO 96 at The (UK) National Archives, the following information should become available:

Name of relative(s)
Relationship to serviceman
Place and date of birth
Place and date of Enlistment
Regiment and unit
Service rank
Service number

A more complete collection of WO 96 records is available in Findmypast's British Army Service Records collection of more than 8 million documents between 1760 and 1939.

Ottawa DNA SIG meeting on Saturday

Exceptionally the DNA SIG meeting next Saturday 2 November is in the afternoon,  at 1PM.

Leslie Anderson, back from RootsTech London, will present Secrets & Shenanigans – how AncestryDNA helped with an unexpected mystery. 

When Leslie’s 88 year old friend's adoptive mother died in 1952, she left an envelope with her adoption papers so she thought researching her family tree would be easy. Little did Leslie know that she would spend over 2 years of research, building multiple family trees and sending out many DNA kits! Using this case study we will go through the process to show how you can use AncestryDNA with your family tree and research to break down brick walls and discover your real story.

Monday, 28 October 2019

WDYTYA Magazine

Do you research London ancestors? If so check out the November issue of WDYTYA "Britain's Bestselling Family History Magazine." The  cover feature is Trace Your London Ancestors.
Starting on page 77 find a run down of resources, mainly on Ancestry and Findmypast and, for when you need to dig deeper, a two-page London directory of archives and libraries. Each has the website address, email and phone number.
As noted previously the magazine is available without charge through the magazine section of the OPL and many other North American public libraries.

RootsTech London Videos

A reminder that a few videoed sessions from RootsTech London, some of the best, are now available at:

HSO meeting on 30 October

For almost two centuries, Ottawa's Rideau Canal – an incredible engineering feat for its time – has played a crucial role in the shaping of Eastern Ontario… and the nation itself.

Join Historical Society of Ottawa members as the University of Ottawa’s Hunter McGill explores the fascinating history and legacy of this great waterway.

The meeting is on Wednesday 30 October at 1 pm in the auditorium of the Ottawa Public Library downtown. All welcome.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Freemason Ancestor?

There's convenient access through Ancestry giving access to information on more than 1.7 million Freemasons from 1751-1921. These membership registers give the name, number and location of the lodge that a man joined, when he joined, how long he was a member, and in many cases, details of his age, address and profession on joining. There's more information if the man took on a leadership role.

You may also find information on Freemasons from lodges in Canada up to the 19th century.

The Museum of Freemasonry  -- is the source. For Freemasons after 1921 request a search which costs 31 UK pounds.

The museum, which had a stand at RootsTech London, is another place to visit in London -- located between Covent Garden and Holborn underground stations.

Sunday Sundries

Notes from RootsTech London

1,600 people work for Ancestry.
The company will have a focus during 2020 on records related to the 75th anniversary of WW2.
Ancestry is working hard on records from continental Europe, many of which have been digitized by the respective national archives and which they will index.
In France the archives is opening up to online availability and indexing is underway.

FamilySearch has a centre for coordinating their European digitization in Germany.

Just as there is a market for people watching experts play video games - e-Sports, maybe there's a market for genealogists watching expert genealogists do genealogy online.

At Findmypast the focus is on digitization of the 1921 census of England and Wales, to become available in January 1922. One person involved mentioned seeing a return with a comment/complaint written on the return about the treatment of returned soldiers.

Deceased Online has been in something of a hiatus re new cemeteries while work has been ongoing on the database software. Expect a Leicester cemetery to come online imminently. A major Lancashire cemetery with relatively few markers, lots of pauper burials, will become available near the end of the year.

Speakers at RootsTech London whose presentations I hadn't attended before, and I'd like to hear again, are Jonny Perl and Dave Annal. There were several others I have heard before. None of the presentations I attended were anything but first class including Colin Chapman who revealed he has been doing family history for 70 years. Can anyone beat that?

Expect more posts with info from RootsTech London later in the week.

Friday, 25 October 2019

RootsTech London -- Dan Snow

The opening theme session for RootsTech London is recommended viewing.

Colour Tithe Maps for Warwickshire added to TheGenealogist

The following is a news release:

TheGenealogist has just released additional sets of Colour Tithe Maps to join the previously available greyscale maps in their National Tithe Records collection. This release for Warwickshire is of high-resolution colour digitised maps which will provide the family historian with highly detailed maps sourced from both The National Archives as well as the Warwick County Record Office. 

Researchers searching for owners or occupiers of Warwickshire land surveyed in the 19th century for the Tithe Commutation Act 1836 now have a choice of plans linked to the fully searchable apportionment schedules. 

Subscribers to TheGenealogist's Diamond membership can select to view The National Archives' grayscale maps, The National Archives' colour map, or the Warwickshire Record Office colour maps when using the Tithe & Landowner records for this county. The Warwickshire Record Office maps are, in many cases, less faded and more vibrant in their colours having had less wear and tear than the alternatives. 

The new data includes colour tithe maps showing plots of land covering the years from 1837 to 1855 with some much later plans where there was an altered apportionment recorded. 

These tagged colour maps join the previously released apportionment record books, national greyscale maps and colour maps for Rutland, Huntingdonshire, Buckinghamshire, City of York, Middlesex, Northumberland, Surrey, Westmorland, and the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire. 

The National Tithe Records collection gives the family history researcher the ability to search by name and keyword (for example parish or county) to look for all levels of society from large estate owners to occupiers of tiny plots such as a cottage or a cowshed.
Read the article, Warwickshire Colour Tithe Records discovers the house that went to America, at:

Findmypast major addition to Norfolk Parish Registers

More than 1.4 million new Norfolk parish registers are now available to search. Published online in association with the Norfolk Record Office, these new records span more than 500 years (1464 to 1993) of Norfolk history and add more than 500 new parishes to our existing collection of Norfolk records.

Created from over 2,500 original handwritten registers, these new transcripts and images include:

Over 501,000 parish baptisms added -- 307 additional parishes to the collections
Over 522,000 parish banns and marriages -- 461 additional parishes.
Over 423,000 parish burials -- 301 additional parishes.

With these additions over 4.3 million fully indexed baptism, marriage and burial records of Norfolk history are now available to search online at Findmypast.

Note that the coverage is to 1993 and includes parishes which were in Suffolk prior to the boundary change in 1974.


Nine Scottish trade and postal directories from Dundee spread over 1783 to 1842. 

CWGC burial at Beechwood Cemetery: Ernest Samuel Povah

Ernest Samuel Povah was born 15 September 1883 in Whitchurch, Shropshire, England, the son of William Povah and Mary (nee Pace).
In the 1891 census he is with his maternal grandparents Samuel and Ann Pace. He claimed 7 years service with the 53rd Shropshire Regiment and 3 years as an Able Seaman with the Royal Navy.
Emigrating in 1910 he is found in Ottawa in the 1911 census.
He married Harriet Jean MacGregor on 16 December 1914 at McLeod Street Methodist Church, Ottawa. They had one child, Dorothy May.
On enlistment in June 1916 the 207th battalion he was shown as a hardware salesman living on Edison Ave in Westboro.
Ernest died in the Mowatt Memorial Hospital, Kingston on Saturday 25 October of tuberculosis of more than one year’s duration.
He is interred in Lot 177. South-West part. Sec. 19. 3681 at Beechwood Cemetery.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Super Discount on Society of Genealogists Membership


Half off new annual membership, either Full or Associate, in the Society of Genealogists.
This extends to blog readers the offer available to RootsTech London visitors.
Go to and quote the discount code RT19.
The offer is available until 4 November and is for the first year only.

Book Notice - No Despicable Enemy, 1779

The latest release from Global Heritage Press (an imprint of Inc.) is
No Despicable Enemy, 1779: The Continental Army destroys Indian Territory By Gavin K. Watt.

Here's the publisher's blurb:

This 440 page book opens with a summary of the incredibly complex, worldwide conflict of 1779, which had sprung from America's four-year revolt, and explains the inability of the Crown's commanders in New York City and Quebec to keep pace with their ever-expanding challenges.  General Washington seized this opportunity to punish the northern native nations, whose raiding had so dominated the previous campaign. His armies invaded their territories, razed their towns and destroyed their extensive crops and orchards.

His primary goal was to force these British allies out of the war, although an apparent secondary goal was to prepare for the postwar expansion of the United States. While Washington's campaign was a technical success, the goal of destroying native morale failed. Three more years of intense raiding followed.

Loaded with detail and backed up with detailed source citations, this book is an esential read for those who are interested in the American Revolution and the Experieinces of their United Empire Loyalist ancestors. Available in printed and digital formats.


From Normandy to the Scheldt

Everyone is invited to a talk organized by the Gloucester Historical Society by military historian Captain Steven Dieter entitled "From Normandy to the Scheldt, Remembering those from Gloucester Township who fell in duty."  
The presentation will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, 27 October 2019, at the Beechwood National Memorial Centre, located at 280 Beechwood Avenue, Ottawa.  
Following the talk, there will be a guided walking tour of the National Military Cemetery.  
Admission and parking are free.

Ottawa Branch OGS October Meeting

Ancestors Intersecting History, presented by Gloria Tubman, is the feature presentation at 1:30 pm for the Branch meeting on Saturday, 26 October at the City of Ottawa Archives, 100 Tallwood Drive.

Ancestors Intersecting History will demonstrate the involvement of one individual’s ancestors in various historic events from about 1690 to 1912.  The presentation offers a different approach to relating one’s family history using a timeline. 

Make a day of it with the Scottish Genealogy Group meeting at 09:30 am, the Genealogy Lunch Bunch getting together at 11:30 am for a session on the Ottawa Branch Library led by Grace Lewis.

The Computer Special Interest Group session is cancelled.

CWGC Beechwood Cemetery Burials: Albert E Himes

Born in Winchester, Ontario on 27 March 1895 he was the son of James and Mary Ann (nee MacAllister) Himes.

Alfred Edward Himes (145774) attested in January 1916, giving his occupation as laborer, and sailed for England in June. Serving with the Infantry he was gassed in October 1918 and invalided home in May 1919.

His 24 October 1919 Ontario death certificate gave toxic goitre as the cause of death with the immediate cause being syncope.

He is buried in Section 29, lot 115 at Beechwood National Cemetery.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

RootsTech London Canadian Meetup

Wednesday evening meetup with BIFHSGO members & Penny Allen -- Canadian expat living
 in London.

New Ancestry UK military release

The first tranche of UK, WWII Royal Artillery Tracer Cards, 1939-1948, for surnames A-P is now on Ancestry.
The collection is over 277 thousand cards giving, where available:

Date of birth
Place and Date of death
Place and date of Enlistment
Date of discharge
Regiment and unit
Service rank
Service number

RootsTech London

Expect posting to be on an irregular schedule as I enjoy the next three days at RootsTech London.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Legacy Webinar Wednesday

Judy Russell is up again on Wednesday, 23 October at 2:00pm ET on "Privacy; How to Protect Your Information Online'

"Protecting privacy online is a continuing concern. Family historians need to decide what personal and family history information we'd like to keep private while still sharing with cousins and other researchers. Learn more about what controls online privacy and what methods and tools are available to give us the best chance to protect our privacy choices."

Monday, 21 October 2019

Ancestry updates ethnicity estimates

The following is from an Ancestry media release.

Today, Ancestry® announced their latest update to AncestryDNA® ethnicity estimates. This update was made possible thanks to an increase in the AncestryDNA reference panel. The reference panel is now more than double its previous size with samples from more places around the world, allowing Ancestry to determine ethnic breakdowns with a higher degree of precision.  New ethnicity estimates will roll out to new and existing customers over several months, resulting in these potential developments for customers:

New Ethnicity Regions: For example, AncestryDNA went from 2 to 11 ethnicity regions in the Americas--an unprecedented industry improvement. New regions include Indigenous Eastern South America, Indigenous Cuba, and Indigenous Americas--Mexico, among others. 
More Global Regions: This advancement will enable AncestryDNA to deliver even more regions globally to enhance the experience across diverse populations including improvements and region realignment in West Africa, northwestern Europe, the Americas, Oceania, and South Asia.

Resolving a conflict: inst or ult?

In "Transcriptions and Their Sources ... An Adventure", BIFHSGO colleague Ken McKinlay posted on his experience attempting to reconcile conflicting information from various records for an 1840 death in Nova Scotia.

Sources on the death date differ by a month. Ken's description of his research is an example of how a careful genealogist seeks and examines different records.

He makes reference to a 2 inch binder "LAC Thematic Guide 1206 to Parish Registers4, Volume 1" found in the second floor Reference Room of LAC. Ken finds it valuable, but it hasn't been digitized.

I wonder if this is a document that could be digitized through LAC's DigiLab? It should be about 400 pages, quite doable in a few hours -- if LAC will cooperate.

A comment to Ken's post is that newspaper death dates at the time were often off by a few days, or more. If true, and it could be true of other records, how much effort would you be prepared to make to resolve a one-month descripency in a 160 year old death date?

Election Day

Get priorities right! Don't read today's blog posts until you voted!

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Sunday Sundries

Miscellaneous items I found of interest during the week.

In Praise of a Nondescript Government Facility (or, The Most Canadian Title Ever)
A blog post by Alan MacEachern on Active History surprised me with the news that Matane’s Document Imaging Solutions Centre [DISC] is digitizing the Canadian Meteorological Service archive. The sentence "If you’ve used or perused the First World War attestation papers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force online, for example, you know their work." caused me to pause. The digitization of service files, completed last year, was performed in Gatineau whereas the earlier digitization of the two-page attestation papers could well have been work done in Matane.

Why It Is Time to Make Conferences Worth It
An opinion piece from The Scientist.
I love going to conferences, but the truth is that they are unreliable. In short (and in line with the title of a paper I recently published), they give us “what we want,” but not “what we need.” Overall, we have done very little to change the basic conference format for 50 years, and the findings of my research show fairly conclusively that in terms of fiscal and knowledge economies, and also in terms of the environmental impact caused by our conference travel, our current practices are unsustainable and need immediate development. 
Active History Election Posts
Some timely blog posts:
Of Energy and the Need for Electoral Reform: Déjà-vu and the 1979 and 1980 federal elections
Won Alexander Cumyow and the Fight for Democratic Rights
The Personality is Political

LAC Co-Lab update

Here's an update on Co-Lab challenges projects as of 14 October since last month.


Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 is 47% complete (36% last month).

Personal Diary of the Baroness Macdonald - Lady Macdonald is 95% complete (94% last month).


Legendary Train Robber and Prison Escapee Bill Miner is 98% complete

War Diaries of the First World War: 1st Canadian Division is 94% complete.

The Call to Duty: Canada's Nursing Sisters is 85% complete.

Rosemary Gilliat (Eaton)’s Arctic diary and photographs is 40% complete

New France and First Nations Relations is 28% complete.

Japanese-Canadians: Second World War is 61% complete.

Letters from Wilfrid Laurier to Zoé Lafontaine/Laurier is 98% complete (previously complete).


The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918–1919.

Correspondence between Sir Robert Borden and Sir Sam Hughes.


One of the indicators for the LAC Three-year plan 2019-2022 is the number of records enhanced by user contributions in the Co-Lab crowdsourcing tool. The indicator is to be released quarterly as is the indicator number of images digitized via DigiLab.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

RIP Roy Stockdill

Sad to learn English genealogist-journalist Roy Stockdill has suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.

RootsTech London Exhibition Hall

Whether attending #RootsTechLondon for all three days, one day or just stopping in for free admission to the exhibition, there's a lot going on.

Presentations of 15 minutes each from various exhibitors in the demo theatre will be advertised closer to the event.

Some companies, like Ancestry, will have a presentation space within their stand. Findmypast has had a presentation space at previous events I've been to. Both of those, and MyHeritage, will offer one-on-one consultations at their stands.

It's worth setting aside time to cruise the hall and its more than 100 exhibitors to take advantage of the information, giveaways, draws, and discounts on products and subscriptions. For instance, the National Institute for Genealogical Studies will offer discounts.

For more see The RootsTech London 2019 Survival Guide.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Findmypast weekly update features Scotland and Westmoreland

Scotland, Will and Testament Index 1481-1807

More than 164,000 records from the commissariat courts of Scotland between 1481 and 1807. Each record includes a transcript of the original will and testament that will reveal the date of the will and where it was made.

Scotland Monumental Inscriptions

Over 112,000 new records covering 9 burial sites across Dumfriesshire are now available to search. These additions consist of transcripts of original inscriptions taken from monuments in Cummertrees Churchyard, Dalton Graveyards, Kirkconnel Churchyard, Kirkpatrick Fleming, Langholm Old Graveyard, Lochmaben Old Churchyard, Staplegordon Graveyard, Staplegordon Graveyard, Wauchope Graveyard and Westerkirk Churchyard.

Westmorland Parish Records

Three new parish record collections from historic English County of Westmoreland, transcripts and images of the original parish register, including:

·        Westmorland Baptisms – over 39,000 records with details such as baptism date, parents' names and residence.

·        Westmorland Marriages – Over 22,000 records listing details such as marriage date, spouse's name, father's name and place of marriage.

·        Westmorland Burials – Over 9,000 records showing final resting place, age at death, burial date and residence.

Each record includes both a  provided by the College of Arms, the official heraldic authority for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and much of the Commonwealth.