Saturday, 25 April 2015

New Zealand Sheep,Teachers and the Dead

Ancestry have added two New Zealand databases.

For the 30,301 records in their New Zealand, Sheep Returns, Owners and Officers, 1879-1889
database Ancestry writes "You can use these records to ride herd on your sheep-owning New Zealand ancestors.They list name, residence, date, and number of sheep." Does one ride herd on a flock of sheep?

New Zealand, Teacher and Civil Service Examinations and Licenses, 1880-1920 has 205,044 records where you will "Find both teachers and students in these exams for would-be teachers and civil servants in New Zealand."

FamilySearch have updated their New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843-1998 database which now counts 245,362 records. There are images of the original document except for probates issued during the past 50 years.

Oldest Known Footage of London

This compilation courtesy of Yestervid

Toronto Branch OGS Meeting: 27 April

In the main presentation Bonnie Bell will speak on Out of the Shadows: Imaging the women of my family.

This presentation is one’s women personal project to inspire members of her family to become interested in the history of their female ancestors.   Using photographs, personal documents, and family stories and memorabilia, from England, Scotland, and Canada, along with my own vision, I set out to capture, in brief 2-3 page summaries, the essential character of each of the women who define me.  This talk will combine a look at these “snapshots” with a consideration of the roles that selection, bias/colouring, family stories and memory play in the ways in which we present our family histories to our relatives and the larger world.
Also presenting will be Elayne Lockhart giving a Mini-presentation: How DNA broke through my Irish brick wall and took me back 3 generations – in England!

The meeting starts at 7:30 pm in the Burgundy Room, North York Memorial Hall
5120 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M2N 6L4. This presentation is not being streamed.

Friday, 24 April 2015

DNA Day Special from Family Tree DNA

For DNA Day 2015 Family Tree DNA is offering $100 off the Big Y test.

If you don't know about that test there's a very timely YouTube video of a talk given by John Cleary - It's not just 'deep ancestry' - how NGS & Y-STR testing can further your research - at a recent WDYTYA? Live DNA talk sponsored by FTDNA.

Big Y is presently only for the enthusiast. As even with the discount the price is $475 US few will order lightly. Be sure to be familiar with the information provided by FTDNA at,  To get the discount use coupon code DNADayBigY. The coupon is valid from 12:00 AM 4/25/2015 through 11:59 PM 4/30/2015.

The rest of us may want to tune in a program segment on DNA in the CBS Sunday Morning program this Sunday.

Family Tree DNA is promising "many exciting deals beginning summer 2015."

FamilySearch adds Nova Scotia Deaths 1890-1957

These death records are sourced from the Nova Scotia Archives and available in two parts. Nova Scotia Deaths, 1890-1955 has records for Halifax to 1908 with the rest of the province included thereafter, a total of 336,983 records. Nova Scotia Deaths, 1956-1957 has 11,869 records. The records are indexed with links to images of the original archived document.

Genetic Genealogy YouTube videos from WDYTYA start appearing

Thanks to Maurice Gleeson who has started posting videos of the presentations at last week's WDYTYA? Live in the Family Tree DNA theatre.

The first posted was Debbie Kennett's I've got my autosomal DNA results but what do I do next? Despite a warning about background noise in the event venue it was quite acceptable in this recording as well as being informative. We may not be as lucky in some of the others.

Noise must have been more of the problem with two of Maurice Gleeson's talks Which DNA test is best for you? and Autosomal DNA: how to use it in practice as he went to the trouble to re-record them.

Although I'm fairly familiar with the various company offerings by way of autosomal tests I found the two talks by Debbie and Maurice contained updated information. It would be good if Maurice could pace the autosomal presentation to spend more time on using the third party tools DNAgedcom, DNAAdoption, and Genome Mate. Genetic genealogy fishing trips will be more successful the more fish their are to catch which means consolidated databases. If people know about and become familiar with the third party tools they are more likely to transfer results from the various company proprietary databases.

Look for further posting to the YouTube Channel at

Halton-Peel Branch OGS Meeting: 26 April

Linda Reid presents "Using Autosomal DNA Tests to Confirm (or Deny) Relationships and Ancestors". The meeting starts at 2 pm on Sunday, April 26th, at the Oakville Public Library, 120 Navy Street, Oakville, Ontario. Information at

Thursday, 23 April 2015

CBC on Online Genealogy

Lesley Anderson and Louise St Denis are quoted in this timely article.

Library and Archives Canada Main Estimates 2015-16

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage had a hearing regarding the Main Estimates on Monday in which the Heritage Minister was the main witness. After a 10 minute opening statement Minister Shelly Glover answered questions from committee members. The hearing lasted less than one hour and ended with approval of the Estimates as proposed.
During the opening statement and questions there was a single mention of Library and Archives Canada, and that related to the disposition of the archives of Radio Canada.
As a taxpayer I'm unimpressed; the committee spent less than an hour discussing the whole Department of Canadian Heritage and its portfolio agencies, then let the package go through on the nod. If parliamentarians spent more time in their offices in Ottawa and took less time away in recess there would be more time for scrutiny of programs that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

FamilySearch adds Newfoundland Census Index

Back in January FamilySearch added images from the 1935 and 1945 censuses of Newfoundland to their online collection, but without name indexes. Now that has been added.

The Newfoundland censuses are more comprehensive than those we're accustomed to in Canada and the UK. In 1935 there are headings for name and residence, description of home, personal description, place of birth, immigration, nationality, religion, education, occupation and industry, and total annual earnings.  In 1945 these are asked and in addition some information for 1935 is also included.

OGS Ottawa Branch April Meeting

This Saturday, 25 April, the topic for the 1 pm meeting of the branch is "Don't Fade Away: digitization and preservation of family photographs" presented by Kyla Ubbink.

Digitization is a great way to facilitate creative use and sharing of photographs and documents, but with so many options out there for scanners, cameras and software it is hard to know what will suit your needs. In this workshop aimed at beginners Kyla Ubbink will discuss the different kinds of equipment and software available as well as the techniques required for carrying out digitization, organizing the resulting images, and some of the creative projects you can undertake to make the most out of your memories.
It will be followed by a meeting of the Computer Special Interest Group.

The morning Back to Basics session, at 10:30 am is on Genetic Genealogy, to be given by Richard McGregor.

All events are at the City of Ottawa Archives, 100 Tallwood Drive (Room 115)

More information is at

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

St George's Day

Today is England's patron saint's day. How will you celebrate? Fish and Chips or Sausages and Mash? Eton Mess or Bread Pudding? washed down with Newcastle Brown Ale?

For a modern take consider Jamie Oliver's St George's Day recipes

Ancestry adds UK WW1 War Diaries

Two new valuable record collections have appeared on Ancestry sourced from WO 95/1096–3948 at TNA.

UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920 Military, 402,770 records

Includes diaries for operations in Russia and the armies of occupation in Germany following the Armistice.
The diaries contain daily reports on operations, intelligence summaries, and other pertinent material, and they can provide an on-the-spot description of what your ancestor experienced. The range of dates shown for individual items does not mean there is a document inside the file for each day between the two covering dates.
UK, WWI War Diaries (Gallipoli and Dardanelles), 1914-1916 Military, 33,350 records
Included are diaries for Australia and New Zealand units.
The diaries include information on a unit’s movements, where the unit was stationed on a given day, what activities troops were engaged in, and other information, such as embarkation, travel, or casualties. 
For both these you can either search by Regiment or Unit, Diary Entry Start Date and Location, or browse the original records. There is no name index.

I searched for the diary for the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) on 31 July 1917, the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele. An exact search returned 12 entries with start dates from the 7th to the 31st of July. Included one for the 12th Battalion where my great uncle, a 2nd Lt was mentioned as having been wounded and died.

Ancestry have also updates the collections

UK, WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920, 6,526,145 records
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919,  703,810 records

AncestryDNA looks at People of the British Isles (POBI) results

The AncestryDNA blog has a new post Recent University of Oxford study sheds light on estimating Great Britain ethnicity giving the company perspective.
Examining their database they find "the greatest concentration of Scandinavian ancestry in the East Midlands and Northern England, and higher proportions of Europe West ancestry in the South East of England." These findings complement those in the study published in Nature and summarized at .
The blog post attempts to manage expectations that those of us with British ancestry will see the benefit of the POBI research in our AncestryDNA results any time soon.

"Realizing this possibility for our AncestryDNA customers would require the right statistical tools and adequate DNA samples from the British Isles. First, we need to obtain adequate genetic data from individuals with deep ancestry in these regions. Second, more basic research is needed to translate these results to individualized ethnicity estimates."
As I understand it the method used in the POBI project, fineSTRUCTURE, is different from the ethnicity approach used by Ancestry. No doubt there are other obstacles. One thing we can be sure of, AncestryDNA will not want to get left behind Family Tree DNA or 23andMe in exploiting the new information. Isn't competition wonderful!

Historical Society of Ottawa April Meeting

The topic of the Friday April 24 meeting is Ottawa civic pioneer William Pittman Lett, to be presented by Bryan Cook.

In 1820, the young family of a veteran Irish soldier landed in Upper Canada with a babe-in-arms. The child, William Pittman Lett, was destined to experience tumultuous changes in his fortune and those of Bytown on his long journey through the 19th century.
During that century, British North America and Bytown evolved rapidly through to Confederation and Ottawa’s selection as the nation’s capital. William’s life evolved with all this change throughout his 73 years from 1819 to 1892.
As Ottawa’s first and longest serving civic Clerk, he influenced the growth of the city in many ways. He engaged in the public debate over the choice of national flag, annexation, slavery, temperance, poverty, and the politics of the British connection and Imperial wars. He delivered his messages though the speeches of the mayors and city councils, public oratory, the newspapers and local societies.
His media were prose, speech, poetry and the power of holding the civic pen. He was Ottawa’s official chronicler and the city’s de facto poet laureate with a considerable lifetime production of poetry.
As usual the meeting is at 1:00 pm in the lounge of the Routhier Community Centre, 172 Guigues Street at Cumberland.

Further information at

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

WDYTYA? Live Handouts from Society of Genealogists

If you didn't get to Birmingham last week for Who Do You Think You Are? Live, or missed a talk of interest, you're in luck. The Society of Genealogists have speakers’ handouts or slides. Some are yet to be posted.

Those presently available are:

Ron Arons (Saturday 18 April 2015) Nifty & Powerful Technologies for Genealogical Annalysis & Documentation.

Carl Chinn MBE (Friday 17 April 2015) The Real Peaky Blinders

Else Churchill (Thursday 16 April 2015) What's Been Done Before? Finding Pedigrees Online and at the Society of Genealogists)

Else Churchill (Friday 17 April 2015) Parish Registers - On and Off Line

George English (Friday 17 April 2015) Problem Solving and Breaking Down Brick Walls

Janet Few (Thursday 16 April 2015) Are You Sitting Comfortably? Creating Your Family's Story

Nicci Fletcher (Friday 17 April 2015) Preserving Tomorrows History Today.

Janet Few (Friday 17 April 2015) Families in Context: Researching Your English Ancestors and their Communties in the Early Twentieth Centuries

Liv Marit Haarkenstad (Saturday 18 April 2015) Norwegian Ancestry

Celia Heritage (Thursday 16 April 2015) How Far Did Your Ancestors Travel Before the Railways?

Celia Heritage (Saturday 18 April 2015) I've Lost My Ancestors Before 1837. Where Did He Come From?

Jane Howells (Thursday 16 April 2015) The Patchwork of a Woman's Life: Finding Pieces and Stitching Them Together

Doreen Hopwood (Friday 17 April 2015) Birmingham Occupations

Doreen Hopwood (Saturday 18 April) Birmingham Ancestors

Paul Howes (Saturday 18 April 2015) How has the Internet Changed the Game? Testing the Limits of  A Huge One Name Study

Debbie Kennett (Thursday 16 April 2015) The Joy of Surnames

Michael Pearson (Thursday 16 April 2015) Tracing Your Black Country Surnames

Audrie Reed  (Friday 17 April 2015) Family History Scrapbooking. There's a link to the presentation on You Tube

Mike Sharpe (Thursday 16 April) 2015) Tracing Your Birmingham Ancestors

Jenny Swanson (Thursday 16 April 2015) Scottish Baptismal Names

Find the links at

As a bonus there are also links to handouts for the two previous WDYTYA? Live events in Glasgow and London.

Thanks to the speakers who agreed to make their material available and to SOG.

GEDMatch Basics

If you've taken an autosomal DNA test with AncestryDNA, 23andMe or Family Tree DNA (Family Finder) and heard about the GEDMatch utility allowing comparing results loaded to the site from any of these companies companies, but hesitated to try it, take a look at this YouTube video by Angie Bush. It's also embedded below. Recorded earlier this month it explains in relatively simple terms how to get the results from your autosomal test into GEDMatch and the basic analysis tools useful for genealogy. Recommended.
A follow on video is promised that will further explain these, and delve into other analysis features.

Explore by Location added at Ancestry

Ancestry's card catalog has been the way to find record sets for places up until now. That's remains available but now there's a new map interface for those of us visually oriented.
I found it via a tweet which pointed to from where you scroll down to the map at Explore by Location.
The default zoom level shows Canadian provinces, US states and elsewhere countries. Zoom in and you'll find no finer definition of records in Canada, county or town level resolution in the US and county level in the UK and Ireland.
At any zoom level mouse over the icon and a bubble pops up giving the number of record sets. Click and a panel to the right lists the record sets and the number of records. It's a way to find some of the more obscure items such as books.
It's new and there are issues. In England Lincolnshire is missing and the icon for Cambridgeshire is not over the county. It may not be an error but the censuses for Lower Canada 1825 and Canada East 1842 are listed as sets applicable to Newfoundland and Labrador.