Sunday, 24 July 2016

Ancestry offer - ends today

Read and understand the small print on a widely promoted offer from that ends today, 24 July, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. ET

  • The offer is for new subscribers, not for renewals.
  • The term is 6 month subscriptions.
  • The US records only package (50 states)  is 50% off - $49 US.
  • The World package is 30% off - $99 US.
  • The subscription automatically renews at full list price at the end of the 6‑month term, unless you specifically cancel.
One thing you learn for the ad is that of the 16 billion records Ancestry has globally 13 billion are US records.

Findmypast adds English absent voters lists

Britain, Absent Voters Lists 1918-1921 is a new browse database of 172 volumes on Findmypast, at present for communities in the English counties of Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cornwall, Cumberland, Dorset, Durham, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire, Norfolk, Nottinghamshire, Sussex, Yorkshire.
For voters away from their normal place of residence, most often for military service, registers record: Name, Parish, Qualifying premises address, Service number, Rank or rating, Regiment or ship.
There are not a great many entries, for Great Yarmouth there are 432 on 18 pages.

Twitter advice

While I use Twitter, mostly to see what's going on, I don't feel like I'm making the most of it. So I was pleased to see a post on the Unwritten Histories blog The Canadian Historian’s Guide to Twitter. Being an amateur historian at best I didn't get into the detail about people and organizations to follow, but the material on techniques is helpful. There's even reference to more basic material for the complete Twitter neophyte.
If you know of Twitter information more specifically of interest to the Canadian family historian please post it in a comment.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

British army browse records at Findmypast

More than 7.8 million British Army Service records from the following series are now available to browse. These Army documents including attestation papers, medical forms, discharge documents and pension claims.

WO 22 - Royal Hospital Chelsea: Returns Of Payment Of Army and Other Pensions 1842-1883
WO 23 - Royal Hospital Chelsea: Admission Books, Registers, and Papers 1702-1876
WO 76 - Regimental Records Of Officers' Services 1775-1914
WO 96 - Militia Service Records 1806-1915
WO 97 - Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records 1760-1913
WO 121 - Chelsea: Pensioners' Discharge Documents 1760-1887
WO 122 - Chelsea: Pensioners' Discharge Documents, Foreign Regiments 1816-1817
WO 128 - Imperial Yeomanry, Soldiers' Documents, South African War 1899-1902
WO 131 - Chelsea: Documents Of Soldiers Awarded Deferred Pensions 1838-1896
WO 400 - The Household Cavalry 1801-1919

WO 96 with 2,196,559 images and WO 97 with 6,121,455 images account for the bulk of these records. for which there's a link above to the TNA description above.  Note that although TNA include a note that WO 97 does not include war dead the one record I examined had papers for a serviceman whu died in action in October 1917.

Ottawa history told by Randy Boswell

Randy Boswell, now a assistant professor of journalism at Carleton University, formerly an Ottawa Citizen journalist, is the guest speaker next Monday, 25 July at 7 pm at Pinhey’s Point.

Boswell has been shortlisted for the Pierre Berton Award, Canada’s top prize for popularizing Canadian history, was the 2010 winner of the Yves Fortier Earth Science Journalism Award and was co-writer of a 1997 National Newspaper Award-nominated special project on Gatineau Park. He continues to write history-related news stories on a freelance basis and is pursuing various research projects that employ 19th-century newspapers to shed fresh light on political, scientific and journalistic issues and personalities of that era.

He will speak on Bytown surgeons Hamnett Hill and Edward Van Cortlandt who founded the Bytown Mechanics Institute and promoted natural history and archaeology.  Van Cortlandt’s 1843 excavation of an indigenous burial ground older than the Pyramids has prompted a recent reinterpretation of the Ottawa River’s cultural landscape.

Organized by the Pinhey’s Point Foundation. Admission free. Free parking. Refreshments to follow.

Located at 270 Pinhey’s Point Road in Dunrobin, 20 minutes outside of Kanata.  Take March Road off Hwy 417 to Dunrobin Road. Turn right on Riddell Drive. Follow it left onto Sixth Line Road for about 5km until you reach Pinhey's Point Road.

Tip:  There's no more pleasant a spot on the Ottawa River.

Friday, 22 July 2016

LAC Annual Report 2015-2016

The year's achievements in numbers listed in the LAC annual report for 2015-2016. 

website views

government records opened

questions answered by the reference section

digital images online

Flickr views

publications collected under legal deposit    

podcast listens

blog views

new private acquisitions

private heritage institutions funded

items loaned to museums and galleries

This year genealogy is not overlooked. Geneal* is found seven times:

. . our plan is to make all of the records (CEF service files) available online by the 100th anniversary of the Armistice—November 11, 2018—which should delight both genealogists and historians alike. 

LAC is fully dedicated to serving all its clients: government institutions, donors, academics, researchers, archivists, librarians, students, genealogists and the general public.

By adding advanced search options such as place of birth, place and date of enlistment, and the name of the unit or battalion, volunteers have enabled researchers, students and genealogists to find the files of specific soldiers whose names are similar to those of other soldiers.

Top 5 Topics
  1. Genealogy
  2. First World War
  3. Photographs
  4. Research Tools
  5. Canadian People and Events
The most-viewed blog post was about the 1940 National Registration File— confirming just how interested Canadians are in genealogical research!

One of the most popular services is helping clients locate relatives and family records through LAC’s genealogy experts.

David Obee Genealogy expert  (as member of Services Consultation Committee)

Alas, not a single mention of newspapers!


19 July was the anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles. Despite being a bit tardy for the anniversary it's worth giving a shout out to this video explaining the DNA analysis done on remains exhumed.

It's a bit of an advert for LGCGroup, the commercial continuation of the UK's Laboratory of the Government Chemist, yet gives a good description of the project.

For more sign up for the BIFHSGO conference and Maurice Gleeson's presentation on Fromelles.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

A TROVE success story

The National Library of Australia blog posted a story that just came to my attention about how an item in TROVE has helped change people's lives, specifically those who lost a hand in an accident, for the better. TROVE is a prime example of a library success, building on newspaper digitization,  even if underappreciated by Australia's government.
LAC should pay much more attention to its library collection, specifically newspapers, with one or more dedicated newspaper specialists on staff and making digitized newspapers available in a searchable format online, as does the NLA.

Call for Papers: Ontario Genealogical Society Webinars

The Ontario Genealogical Society is seeking proposals for one-hour webinar presentations for its Monthly Webinar Series 2016.

Topics of interest are:

  • Ontario-specific topics (laws, records, land, history, etc.)
  • Ethnic research (Scottish, Irish, English, African-Canadian, German, etc.)
  • Canadian military research
  • Loyalist research
  • Ontario land research
  • DNA/genetic genealogy
  • Methodology and skill-building
  • Technology and trends in genealogy
  • Interesting case studies (Ontario specific)
  • Organization and project/time management

Deadline for submission is 1 September 2016.

Further information at

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Ancestry 2Q corporate results

Highlights of Ancestry's Second Quarter,
  • Revenues of $211.4 million, up 25% year-over-year,
  • Net income was a $10.5 million loss for the second quarter of 2016 compared to surplus of $13.7 million in the second quarter of 2015, 
  • The AncestryDNA database surpassed 2.0 million samples during the quarter, doubling in less than a year 
  • Ancestry subscribers to the various websites totaled approximately 2,419,000 as of June 30, 2016, up 2% compared to March 31, 2016, up 9% compared to June 30, 2015.
  • During the second quarter of 2016, the Company added more than 18 billion records including
- Netherlands birth, marriage, and death records, over 80 million records
- Indiana vital records, over 30 million records
- German Lutheran records, over 15 million records
- Update to US Yearbooks, over 10 million records
- US naturalizations, over 10 million records
- Australia WW2 military records, over 1 million records
Read results in full here.

Carleton University Learning in Retirement - Fall 2016

Looking for something more intellectually stimulating than Coronation Street? Four of 13 lecture series being offered in Carleton University's Learning in Retirement series, starting right after the BIFHSGO conference, on 12 September are:

"From Longhouse to Lumber to Legislation: An Anecdotal History of Ottawa," with Phil Jenkins
"Walking Through Ottawa's History: 'Forgotten Stories' From a Radical Tour Guide," with Dr. Brian McDougall
"Keep It? Fix It? Sell It? Gift It? Toss It? Caring for Your Collections or Family Heirlooms," with Erica Claus
"The Personal Journal: A Springboard for Memoir," with Dr. Anna Rumin (workshop)

See full details at

In the session starting 31 October is:
"Who Do You Think You Are? The Basics of Genealogy," with Dr. John de Vries

Norfolk Parish records from Ancestry

Ancestry now have a large selection of parish records from the English county of Norfolk, with a few parishes from adjacent Suffolk sourced from the Norfolk Record Office, with images.

Norfolk, England, Church of England Baptism, Marriages, and Burials, 1535-1812
Norfolk, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1915
Norfolk, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1940
Norfolk, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-1990,

There's now lots of choice when it comes to Norfolk parish records. Mentioned previously are those from The Genealogist, and Findmypast; that's in addition to some free access through FamilySearch and the Norfolk Transcription Archive.

The Social Life of DNA

Due for release in paperback on 20 September, available since January in hardback and on Kindle, The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome, by Alondra Nelson tells "the unexpected story of how genetic testing is affecting race in America."

Alondra Nelson, Dean of Social Science and professor of sociology at Columbia University, is also a genealogist.

Although the focus is on the African-American experience one can imagine broader applicability.

The publisher's blurb is below, but if you have time  view the interview (skip ahead about 14 minutes to avoid the long intro material.)

We know DNA is a master key that unlocks medical and forensic secrets, but its genealogical life is both revelatory and endlessly fascinating. Tracing genealogy is now the second-most popular hobby amongst Americans, as well as the second-most visited online category. This billion-dollar industry has spawned popular television shows, websites, and Internet communities, and a booming heritage tourism circuit.

The tsunami of interest in genetic ancestry tracing from the African American community has been especially overwhelming. In The Social Life of DNA, Alondra Nelson takes us on an unprecedented journey into how the double helix has wound its way into the heart of the most urgent contemporary social issues around race.

For over a decade, Nelson has deeply studied this phenomenon. Artfully weaving together keenly observed interactions with root-seekers alongside illuminating historical details and revealing personal narrative, she shows that genetic genealogy is a new tool for addressing old and enduring issues. In The Social Life of DNA, she explains how these cutting-edge DNA-based techniques are being used in myriad ways, including grappling with the unfinished business of slavery: to foster reconciliation, to establish ties with African ancestral homelands, to rethink and sometimes alter citizenship, and to make legal claims for slavery reparations specifically based on ancestry.

Nelson incisively shows that DNA is a portal to the past that yields insight for the present and future, shining a light on social traumas and historical injustices that still resonate today. Science can be a crucial ally to activism to spur social change and transform twenty-first-century racial politics. But Nelson warns her readers to be discerning: for the social repair we seek can’t be found in even the most sophisticated science. Engrossing and highly original, The Social Life of DNA is a must-read for anyone interested in race, science, history and how our reckoning with the past may help us to chart a more just course for tomorrow.