Monday, 19 March 2018

Help determine priorities of the National Heritage Digitization Strategy

It's an easy seven step process. Please take five minutes to help ensure the genealogy community voice is heard. Complete a short anonymous National Heritage Digitization Strategy survey to help set its priorities.
Here's how and my recommended responses for those with genealogical interests.

Step 1: Open the survey form here.
Step 2: For the first question, on PUBLISHED MATERIAL, select Newspapers as the highest priority. Fill in the remainder as you wish.
Step 3: For the second question on ARCHIVAL MATERIAL, select Archival material of genealogical interest as the highest priority. Fill in the remainder as you wish.
Step 4: For the third question on FORMATS, select Textual documents as the highest priority followed by At-risk material, then Microfilm and microfiche. Fill in the remainder as you wish.
Step 5: In response to Why would you prioritize this material and these formats? respond Of most interest to my community.
Step 6: In response to the request for comments respond Give priority to material of widest interest.
Step 7: Compete the survey by selecting your role from the list given and click Submit.

The survey is open until April 6th, 2018 but don't hesitate - do it now. Thank you.

Gilbert Ross Slack: CEF Beechwood

Signaller Gilbert Ross Slack of the 32nd Battery, Canadian Field Artillery, died on 19 March 1918 of a shrapnel wound which had severed his spine. He was buried at Beechwood Cemetery the following day.
A 57 page service file shows he was in France for about a year. The wound was received while serving as a cyclist at the Somme, France, on 25 March 1917. Paralyzed below the wound he spent time in hospitals in France and England before being returned to Canada on the Hospital Ship Llandovery Castle.
His family subsequent took him to New York for consultation with a specialist, but he could not help. He was reported to have maintained a cheerful disposition.
The second son of John Henry Slack and Jennett Baxter Slack he was born 8 October 1895.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Adding to the Irish Records at Findmypast

The most recent additions to Findmypast are:

Irish Tontines Annuitants 1766-1789, over 153,000 (15,388?) results
Annuity statements, accounts of deaths, death certificates, and marriage certificates relating to the subscribers and nominees of the English tontine of 1789; the Irish tontines of 1773, 1775, and 1777; and the life annuities of 1766 to 1779.
Although the announcement claims over 153,000 results a search with nothing entered in the form, which usually provides a more exact figure, finds just 15,388!

Ireland, American Fenian Brotherhood 1864-1897, over 125,000 records.
The 125,001 search results are based on correspondence between members of the British Foreign Office regarding the activities of the American Fenian Brotherhood during the years from 1864 to 1897. Records include newspaper cuttings, letters, telegrams, lists of prisoners, and a number of photographs.
The newspaper cuttings are particularly interesting; reports on the Fenian raids show that spinning the news is not a new phenomenon.

Other Irish resources added are:

Church of Ireland Histories & Reference Guides, over 300 records from ‘The National Churches: The Church of Ireland (1892)’ and ‘Some Worthies of the Irish Church (1900)’.
Armagh Records & Registers, over 600 pages of the ‘Historical Memoirs of the City of Armagh for a Period of 1,375 years’.
Antrim Histories & Reference Guides, over 600 records from ‘A History of the Town of Belfast from the Earlier Times to the Close of the Eighteenth Century’.

Ireland population and migration

The second most amazing thing, after the growth of the population of England shown in this graph recently posted on Twitter by Myko Clelland, is the decline in the population of Ireland that started, but didn't end with the famine of the 1840s.
Through the 18th century to the famine the population trend in Ireland was following much the same trajectory as in England.
What would have happened if the potato blight had not struck, famine had been avoided and parallel population growth continued?
In 1840 England's population was 15 million, Ireland's 9 million—60 per cent of England's.
In the year 2000 England's population was 50.3 million. 60 per cent of that is 30 million. Compare that to Ireland's actual population that year of 6.2 million.
30 million living Ireland with an area of 84,421 km² would mean an average 354 people per km²—about the same as Belgium today. The UK has 255 people per km².
Would there have been a development path to sustain a population of 30 million? Is there a hint in the censuses of 1841 and 1851 which, in addition to showing the population decline, records a widespread if small increase in the ability to read and write (see The National School system had been introduced in 1831.
Or would there have been continued major migration, as was the Irish experience before the famine and after it? Ireland may be thought of as green, but through the ages many have seen the grass to be greener on the other side of the hill.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

OGS weekly eNewsletter

Along with the regular content of OGS-interest news in today's St Patrick themed weekly eNewsletter comes a shout-out on the 12h anniversary of Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections earlier this week. Thanks OGS, and to others who also sent greetings and appreciation.
One of the other OGS eNewsletter items this week is about TONI, The Ontario Name Index, an OGS name-based index to Ontario records which continues to grownow more than 5.2 million name references. The news item highlights three new TONI sources, some of which are pending the implementation on the new OGS website.
The free OGS weekly eNewsletter is—freeexcellent value—you don't need to be an OGS member to receive it. Subscribe from the form near the bottom of the page at
Organizations with news of genealogical interest, particularly for Ontario genealogists, are invited to send it for possible (likely) inclusion by sending it to

The Irish in Upper Canada, 1819-1840

A tip of the hat to blog reader Patrick Doyle for bringing to my attention a recent University of Toronto PhD thesis, "Unsettled Settlers: Irish Catholics, Irish Catholicism, and British loyalty in Upper Canada, 1819-1840" by Laura Smith. It examines the role of Roman Catholicism in the process by which Irish Catholics integrated into Upper Canadian society in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Patrick writes that the manuscript has enabled him to gain a much better appreciation of the socio-religious context of his 19th century Irish Catholic ancestors' early lives in the Ottawa Valley.

Theses are an often overlooked resource for the family historian and the literature search required for such academic studies can also bring to light obscure sources.

The text is quite long - nearly 400 pages - so to read it be prepared to set aside a good chunk of time.

However, lacking the time you can still browse the references, and having it online means you can search words or phrases, names and places of personal interest.

St Patrick's Day 1838

George Cruikshank's illustration for the 1838 editions of the Comic Almanack shows a St Patrick's Day brawl.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Two additions to GGI Belfast 2018 on YouTube

In DNA, Clans & Monarchy, the most recent You-Tube post from Genetic Genealogy Ireland Belfast 2018, Brad Larkin explores the DNA of Irish Clans and Kings and, starting at about 28 minutes, what is known about the DNA of the Royal Houses of Britain. The focus is Y-DNA. You need to be well into the history to absorb the detail, especially where the presentation skips over and around slides.
In a single stream event it's good to have the speaker link back to previous presentations. Brad Larkin does that referring to James Irvine's presentation Y-DNA of a Scots-Irish Diaspora, the second new YouTube post.  The one-name study which is the basis is another case where the detail of the surname and variant lines is more than most need to know—the value is in learning from the techniques developed and employed should you choose to embark on the slippery slope of a one-name study.

FreeBMD March Update

The FreeBMD Database was updated on Thursday 15 March 2018 to contain 266,897,565 (266,393,467 last update) distinct records. Major additions this month are, for births 1963-4, 1978-83; for marriages 1965-6, 1979-80, 1982-3; for deaths 1858, 1981-2.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

CEF Service Files Update for March 2018

As of 15 March 2018 there are 568,203 (555,443 last month) of 640,000 files available online in the LAC Personnel Records of the First World War database.
The latest box digitized is 9,700 (9,467) and last name Timson (Swindells).
At the last month's rate the last file will be online in September.

LAC posted a creative graphic for Pi Day showing how the digitization has progressed year by year.

Gene-O-Rama 2018

I final reminder that Friday, 16 March is the deadline for discount registration for Gene-O-Rama 2018. Read all about it at

$1 million to support Canadian digitization

The National Heritage Digitization Strategy (NHDS) has issued a progress report dated 14 March 2018. Read it here.
A significant announcement is that thanks to an anonymous donor NHDS will be launching a funding program in the near future. The program will distribute $1 million to cultural heritage organizations in Canada to support digitization.
Also the first set of newspapers from the Salamander Foundation funded pilot project has been digitized, almost 600 issues of Windspeaker, a weekly publication or the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta.  They are from 1986-87 to 2015.
At present the issues are available through a spreadsheet listing as searchable pdfs. Each must be searched individually. LAC is developing a search interface to provide better browsing and full-text search of the material. It also continues to digitize another 1000 issues from two other publications in the pilot project.
I wondered how good the digitization is. Here from an issue chosen at random using a search for "weather" are the first three paragraphs from the article found

horseback poker rally
postponed because of the
weather was held on May
24th. It was a wonderful
Organized by the Fishing
Lake Recreation committee,
the rally was the first of
it's kind in the part of the
All 29 riders who participated
in the ride were from
the settlement making this
a good fun community

Looks pretty good.

Finally, the NHDS has released a draft content strategy (3 pages) to help guide potential funding projects, a discovery platform and organizational decision-making. NHDS is seeking feedback to help in determining priorities through response to a survey by April 6th, 2018.

Here are the survey questions and my recommended priority responses. It doesn't take much time.

1. What PUBLISHED MATERIAL most urgently needs digitization in your community?
RECOMMENDED highest priority Newspapers.
2. What ARCHIVAL MATERIAL most urgently needs digitization in your community?
RECOMMENDED highest priority Archival material of genealogical interest
3. What FORMATS most urgently need digitization in your community?
RECOMMENDED highest priority Textual documents followed by At-risk material, then Microfilm and microfiche.
4. Why would you prioritize this material and these formats?
Response: Of most interest to my community.

I recommend priorizing material of widest interest.

Churches of East Anglia

In the four years since last profiled this site has continued to expand.
Cambridgeshire now includes 280 churches; Essex 308; Norfolk 910 and Suffolk 704. There's also a shorter list of London City Churches.
If you have any connection to a church profiled take a look at Simon Knott's description. The Eastern Daily Press magazine comment they are "Beautifully written, but insightful and entertaining, in a similar vein to Bill Bryson."
Start at

Kingston Branch OGS March Meeting: Irish Settlement of the Ottawa Valley

Dr. Bruce Elliott will speak on "Irish Settlement of the Ottawa Valley" to the Kingston Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society on Saturday, March 17th.
His award winning book Irish Migrants in the Canadas is a standard work in the field.
The meeting starts at 9:45 a.m. sharp at the Kingston Seniors Centre, 56 Francis St.
Visitors always welcome.
Further details at