Sunday, 8 December 2019

The Mystique of Money: Tax Culture and ‘Race’ in Two Centuries”

The Ottawa Historical Association's next presentation of its 2019-20 Speaker Series is at the Ottawa Art Gallery (50 Mackenzie King Bridge) on Tuesday, 10 December:

“The Mystique of Money: Tax Culture and ‘Race’ in Two Centuries”

 A public lecture by Shirley Tillotson

The mystique of money is about its power both to hide and to reveal. Using examples from her recent book, Give and Take: The Citizen-Taxpayer and the Rise of Canadian Democracy (UBC Press, 2017), and from the Dalhousie University inquiry about its connections to race and slavery in the 1810s, Tillotson will explore both sides of the mystique of money and especially its relationship to systems of racial power.

Shirley Tillotson is Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at Dalhousie University.

This presentation is sponsored by the Canadian Historical Association, which named Give and Take as the 2019 Best Scholarly Book in Canadian History. Copies of Give and Take will be available for purchase at the presentation, courtesy of Perfect Books.

The presentation will begin at 7:15 p.m.
Parking is available at the nearby Rideau Centre.

All are welcome!

Sunday Sundries

Miscellaneous items I found of interest during the week.

The Genealogical Society Observer
While researching for an article I was directed to this monthly publication of the Genealogical Society of Utah. Written for employees and volunteers, it contains news about the Society with a leavening of humour. The item below is from volume 5, no. 1 (Jan. 1969).

If you want to know the real purpose of the LDS genealogical endeavours check out the editorial on page 3 of the issue. It's no secret but rarely so plainly stated.

Illustration from "For Surprises, Shake that Family Tree" from the Ottawa Journal, 19 March 1949. The article mentioned a move by the Ontario Historical Society to add a genealogical section to its quarterly publication.

Vernon Ontario Directories
There are now 473 directories advertised as in the collection of Ontario directories, up from 465 when mentioned on the blog on 26 November.

19th-Century London’s Extreme Wealth and Poverty, Mapped
A review of a new edition of the always fascinating Charles Booth’s London Poverty Maps.

Remove car lanes, restrict vehicles and improve transit to reduce traffic congestion
Although promoted as the best option in one of the sources cited the article does not mention congestion pricing. That source is also cautious about enthusiasm for public transit —"there is such an enormous latent demand for road space ... that whenever a driver shifts onto public transportation, another one quickly grabs the open lane.

Why Don’t We Know More About the Subway Cost Disease?
If better research could cut construction costs by 1%, it would be worth spending tens of millions on that research. It might be true for Ontario's rapid transit systems too.

How can we actually create happy societies?
Creating a happy society does not just depend on creating the right conditions. It also depends on creating the right institutions and processes for discovering those conditions.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

LAC Quarterly Progress Report

LAC recently posted 2019-2022 Three-Year Plan Progess Report: Second Quarter 2019-2020

At the half-year mark LAC is on-target to meet or exceed 6 of  8 indicators reported.

I'm impressed that LAC is more than half-way to the annual target of 3,500,000 images digitized from LAC’s collection. It would be interesting to know what record sets are involved and the format of the original.

Co-Lab and DigiLab activities that require input by non-LAC personnel, be they individual volunteers or staff of other organizations using these LAC facilities, are falling short of the target.

OGS Ottawa Branch Golden Anniversary Family History Project

The following is information from OGS Ottawa Branch.

To help celebrate the 50 years of Ottawa Branch, we would like members to donate a copy of their family history to our Branch library. Every family history sent in during 2020 will be noted in the library catalogue as a Golden Anniversary and will be marked on the spine or cover (to make them easier to identify on the shelves) with a small gold coloured symbol.

If you have already donated a family history, consider updating it with any new information. These family histories will join the over 800 family histories now in our library, ensuring that the stories are never lost.

As well, the Branch is indexing all the library’s family histories in TONI, the Ontario Name Index. To speed this task, we would ask you to send us an electronic version of either the whole family history or the index if you have one. These files will be used only to add the names to TONI. Please send the files to with the name of your family history in the subject line.

I wondered what constituted a suitable donation. Here's a reply:

We normally accept only properly formatted genealogical information (paper or electronic format); electronic files must be readable by a web-browser on a Windows machine (e.g., pdf or html). We may accept useful items that can be catalogued and placed on the shelves, even if in a three-ring binder and never published. All materials proposed for donation will be reviewed prior to accepting it since everything must be put through a triage process before it comes into the building. Ideally, family histories should be indexed for easier research access.

Friday, 6 December 2019

Interview with Charlotte Gray

Following the publication of Murdered Midas, I had the good fortune to chat with author Charlotte Gray about the book, her background and writing.

To keep the length to 20 minutes, much too short, I had to leave some segments I enjoyed on the cutting-room floor.
I particularly regret having to cut part of Charlotte's answer to my final question about authors she's enjoyed. The author omitted is Stacy Schiff, and especially her book on Cleopatra — check out YouTube videos where Schiff is interviewed.
After I recorded this TVO aired an interview with Charlotte that focuses almost exclusively on the story told in the book. View it here.

Last minute notice: DNA Workshop

The following is information about a meeting organized by Ottawa Branch, OGS on Saturday, 7 December⋅13:00 – 17:00 at the City of Ottawa Archives, 100 Tallwood Drive (Room 228).

Jason Porteous will again help you to use Genome Mate Pro (GMP). You need not have prior knowledge of the program. Jason will get you through uploading your match info into a database. After that it's fairly easy to learn through playing around with the various tools inside.

Bring your laptop. The GMP database is set up to work from it. Download your match information. This can be done for FTDNA (csv match file on main matches list at bottom, and csv segment list from Chromosome viewer page), for MyHeritage it is a somewhat complicated process that I can cover. For 23andMe it is also complicated but doable using third party site DNAGedcom, and for Ancestry it can't be done directly but is doable indirectly by matching others from Ancestry or any company who have transferred to the third party site GEDmatch . I recommend everyone, regardless where originally testing, transfers to GEDmatch to allow across company comparisons and to generate the largest match list of genetic cousins possible. Please read their terms of service closely. 

We will not be providing refreshments but you are welcome to bring your own coffee/tea and water bottles can be filled at the water stations in the City Archives. We will be upstairs in Room 228.

Jason may also go over the new tools from Borland Genetics which allow you to partially/fully phase your DNA test results (ie. separate your maternal from paternal chromosome to create a "mono" DNA kit that on GEDmatch will only return matches to one parent while also greatly reducing false matches). He's also open to discussing chromosome mapping as well.

Findmypast adds modern UK records

United Kingdom Deaths 2007-2017
Over 2.7 million additions from across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Isle of Man have been added to the collection. These transcripts, provided by Wilmington Millennium, provide the individual’s name, date and location of death.

UK Electoral Registers & Companies House Directors 2002-2019
Over 981,000 new additions are now available to search. This collection enables you to search registers of UK directors whose companies are registered with Companies House along with the UK’s electoral registers beginning from 2002. There are more than 115 million records available.

Cornwall Burials
Over 76,000 additions covering 57 assorted parishes across the county. This collection now has over 280,000 records covering more than two hundred parishes. Each transcript will reveal a combination of birth year, death year, burial date and burial place. Some records may also include relative’s names.

Also added this week, as well as further digitized Scottish newspaper pages, is a browse collection of New York, Marriage Index Cards (Force-Vorce Family) published in partnership with the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society. It's in BETA and undergoing evaluation and testing. The marriage index includes names, event dates and generation numbers.

Saints by Sea

The Saints by Sea website contains first-person accounts of international converts who were among the about 90,000 Latter-day Saint converts arriving in the US from 1840 to1932.

The Saints by Sea website complements the Mormon Pioneer Overland Trail Database, which covers crossing the plains.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

No Sweat Tech: Using YouTube to Learn More about Your Family History

An article from the Saturday Evening Post by the estimable Tara Calishain on using Spotify and YouTube ("an incredible wealth of video that stretches back into the 19th century") to prompt recollections from her grandmother.

Where did they walk? Online Database of British and Irish Hills

Your British and/or Irish ancestors most likely walked, to get to and from school or work (uphill and against the wind both ways), to visit friends and relatives, or for the enjoyment of the countryside.

For the latter check out the Hill Bagging database. It has information on 19,507 British hills and 1,451 for Ireland.

Find out what's available by clicking on Mountain Search from the left-hand menu, scroll in and click "Show all hills within map bounds" from the text beside the map.

Two entries are for hills I climbed to as a teen near the village where my grandmother lived in North Yorkshire, Captain Cook's monument on Easby Moor and Roseberry Topping. This YouTube video makes the point on the opportunity for enjoyment of the countryside for the urban dweller.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

OGS 2020 Webinars Announced

Although the last OGS webinar of 2019 is not yet presented — Linda Corupe will speak on “Upper Canadian Justice“ on Thursday 5 December at 7pm (register here) — the webinar program for the first half of 2020 is now announced.

2 JanuaryThomas MacEnteeSmarter Search Strategies
6 FebruaryMags GauldenDNA Databases
5 MarchUte BrandenbergHidden Gems in German and Polish Archives
2 AprilBlythe KareenTracing Family History Using the Archives of Ontario
7 MayBeverley MacCullochUsing Ontario's Township Papers
4 JuneJenny LemayResearch Indigenous Ancestors in Northern Ontario

Registration for the 2020 webinars will open shortly.

Lisgar Collegiate Institute Yearbooks

From 1883 to 2006-2007 find yearbooks, Vox Lysei, for Lisgar (Ottawa) Collegiate Institute at

The first few years are handwritten. Printed editions appear to be OCRd and searchable one-by-one.

Find many photos of students and staff, individually or in groups.

The 1919 issue includes the names of former students who died in the Great War including the years they were at the Institute.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Advance Notice: Family History Down Under

If you've always wanted to visit Australia and would like to do so in conjunction with "A Major World Class Genealogy Conference," consider adding 23-26 March 2021 to your trip plan.

Unlock the Past is organizing the event on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, a bit over an hour outside Brisbane.

Two of the headline speakers are Blaine Bettinger and Paul Milner. Five more headliners will be announced.

Find out more here (pdf).

New time for 4 Dec Getting Started in Genealogy

Monday's post originally had this event starting at 2 pm. That is now changed to 1 pm.

FamilySearch adds Lincolnshire, Parish Registers, 1538-1990

Transcriptions of 3,947,025 Lincolnshire Church of England parish register entries of baptisms, marriages, and burials are announced in the FamilySearch newsroom. The original records are from the Lincolnshire Record Office.

There are more, as noted in a post on 11 May 2019, from Findmypast which has Lincolnshire entries for 2,037,145 baptisms, 130,601 banns, 976,293 marriages and 1,809,363 burials.

The records are not available at Ancestry or MyHeritage.

NPE Rates

A recently published study of extra-pair paternity (EPP), often called NPEs, in the Netherlands and Belgium shows that historical rates were low overall (∼1%) but higher for urban populations than rural and for those with low socioeconomic status. Combining the two the rate was ∼5.9% among urban families with low socioeconomic status.
That means for the 15 couplings back to your great-great-grandparents there would be a 14% chance of at least one NPE at the overall average 1%, but a 60% chance for urban families with low socioeconomic status.
The table shows the probability a person has one or more NPEs, cumulatively back for a specified number of generations, starting with parents at one generation.

GenerationsCouplings1% NPE Rate2% NPE Rate6% NPE Rate

Monday, 2 December 2019

Northern Ireland's Tithe Applotment Books go online

Claire Santry posted on Friday that PRONI has released its newly digitized collection of Tithe Applotment Books from 1820 to 1840 online. They can be searched at the townland level within each parish pdf but are not indexed by the householder's name. Go to her post for the detail.
Claire also has news of other releases from PRONI.

This Experienced Amateur Family Historian Gets it Wrong

In a single sentence I blew it while interviewing Charlotte Gray.

You were born in Sheffield in Yorkshire. A little genealogy research says your father was John Gray, your mother Kathleen Beckett and their marriage was registered in Norwich, in my birth county of Norfolk. 
Immediately after I named each of her parents Charlotte cried "Wrong."

How did I end up with egg all over my face?

Charlotte's Wikipedia page gives her birth date as 3 January 1948. Using FreeBMD I found a birth registration in the index with her mother's maiden name.

I didn't know if there were siblings so went looking for them in Sheffield. There was only one, Nicholas R Gray with birth registered in the last quarter of 1946.

So I looked for the marriage of a Gray to a Beckett. From 1940 onward there were none in Sheffield but there was a marriage of John A. Gray to Kathleen M Beckett in the 1st quarter of 1945, a respectable period before the birth of Nicholas. It was in Norwich, but then lots of marriages occurred in places where servicemen met their match while posted away from home during the war.

Had I had time, which I didn't, I could have ordered her birth certificate which would give the parents names.

Is there any other way using readily available documents online I could have avoided this blunder?

My interview with Charlotte, whose latest book is Murdered Midas: A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise, will be posted shortly.

Dec 4, 2019 Getting Started in Genealogy

Let's explore family trees!

Ottawa Public Library (OPL) presents a seminar on Genealogy with tips on researching your family tree. Come one come all to the Hunt Club Riverside Park Community Centre on Wednesday, 4 December from 1 to 2:30 pm in the Riverside Room. This a free seminar!

Note the new time!

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Internet Genealogy Dec - Jan 2020

There's a good mix of content in this latest issue.

Memphis Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878
Calgary researcher-writer Wayne Shepheard researches an epidemic from which more than 20,000 died people along the Mississippi River. He delves into records, including an 1879 book that lists the dead, using his own surname (with variants) to bring home the individual impacts behind the statistics.

More Than a Matter of Trust: Evaluating Website Reliability
Sue Lisk looks at ways to identify whether a particular website is a dependable source of information. Things to look for — common-sense and uncommon-sense.

Building Up Your Family History with Architectural Databases
David A. Norris looks at a valuable set of resources for family historians.

Taking Better Tombstone Photos
Robbie Gorr outlines four easy steps for getting the best possible results when taking photos of your ancestors’ gravestones. Will well repay the time spent reading it.

Researching Métis Ancestry in Your Scottish Family History
Christine Woodcock, Canada's Scotland expert, explains the origins, story and how you might have a connection to the Métis Nation.

Researching Military Records of African American Ancestors
Diane L. Richard reveals where to find records for pre-20th century conflicts

Remembering Those Who Have Fallen
Tony Bandy looks at the CommonwealthWar Graves Commission and our family histories. A good overview of and related sites. I was a bit surprised not to see a mention of burials of Second World War RAF personnel in the US, notably the largest number at Montgomery (Oakwood) Cemetery Annexe, Alabama.

HistoryPin: Tell and Share Your Stories!
Diane L. Richard looks at the thriving sharing platform

Internet Genealogy looks at websites and related news that are sure to be of interest

Back Page
Dave Obee suggests tailoring your queries for the best search results

Subscribe to Internet Genealogy at

Sunday Sundries

Miscellaneous items I found of interest during the week.

Top 5 topics addressed by LAC's Reference Librarians

Handwriting recognition casts new light on climate change from NIWA, on Vimeo.

Atlantic slavery left its mark not just in wealthy city centres, but among the rural poor too
The role of mid-Wales, also Newfoundland and Slovakia in the slave trade.

Reminder: Documentary Heritage Communities Program Webinar
3 December.

So is it nature not nurture after all? 
An opinion piece from The Guardian on Robert Plomin's book Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are.

Hours of daylight mapped as a function of latitude and time of year
A neat graphic. At the equator, the day length never changes.

Tweet of the Week
The concept of "proper English" is a construct based in racism, sexism, classism, colonialism, and imperialism.