Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Microfilm is one of life’s great evils

The title is a line from John Grenham's latest Irish Roots column published as How not to run screaming from the microfilm room.
He's exaggerating slightly. Yet many of us share that detest while being grateful for the documentary resource images that wouldn't have survived if we'd relied on the original hardcopy. Just let's acknowledge microfilm is a technology way past its due date, as are some of the microfilm readers still at Library and Archives Canada -- another candidate for transfer to the Canadian Museum of History.

GENE-O-RAMA Registration Now Available Online

Go to http://ogsottawa.on.ca/gene-o-rama/ to register to attend the 2015 edition of GENE-O-RAMA. See this blog post for detailed program information.

Why is the Ottawa Room Languishing?

The question came to mind while reading about the Niagara Falls Public Library's  Historic Niagara Digital Collections website which currently has over 400,000 records including 30,000 images. Those are to be augmented by thousands of additional images detailing Niagara Falls' history from the 1920s through a partnership between the Niagara Falls Review and the Niagara Falls Public Library. Details are at http://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/2015/01/15/review-photo-archives-donated-to-library.

Niagara isn't unique. Two other public libraries showcasing local history online are Kingston and Toronto, Thunder Bay Public Library is a participant in a WW1 project. Please post a comment if your library has online historical content.

So what's the Ottawa Public Library equivalent? Go to http://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/ottawa-room and you'll read The Ottawa Room provides a centralized information resource about Ottawa and surrounding areas, both past and present, (with) over 15,000 thousand (sic) items that can be consulted free of charge. You'll find a description of how the physical space for the Ottawa Room has been enlarged over the years and a quote from thirteen years ago lauding the Ottawa Room.

What you won't find is any online resources. None. No digital books, no photographs, no newspapers, no city directories. Not even a link to some of those resources that exist online elsewhere.

To be a service these days it's essential to be online. That`s something OPL recognizes  ... except for local history.

In fact the historic collection is languishing. There is currently no librarian dedicated to overseeing the Ottawa Room. The library should be a window on the city's interesting history, not just a public library like any other that happens to serve Ottawa.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Irish Poverty Relief Loans at Findmypast

Those with Irish ancestry will be interested in the new Ireland, Poverty Relief Loans, 1824-1871 database released last Friday by Findmypast.
If you believe the company's words interested doesn't go far enough, they claim  "the importance of this collection for anyone tracing their Irish family history can not be overstated."
The database has 685,980 entries for both the borrower of the micro-loans, typically 1 or 2 pounds, and the guarantor or witness.
The map shows places with data, the Irish counties included (with number of entries in the database) are, Clare (5,320), Cork (61,687), Galway (160,632), Kerry (613), Leitrim (34), Limerick (122,783), Mayo (129,231), Roscommon (184,518), Sligo (11,490), Tipperary (4,029) and Wexford (1,061).
Findmypast has a helpful description of How to use our new Poverty Relief Loans to find your Irish ancestors.

If you want to try this, and all the other databases at Findmypast, the company is currently offering a 1 month World subscription for £1 (usually £12.95). Register using the code JAN2015 typed into the promotional code box found from http://www.findmypast.co.uk/ This offer expires at 11:59pm on Tuesday 27th January.

Call for Speakers Deadline - BIFHSGO Conference 2015

For those who leave things to the last minute, a reminder that next Saturday, January 31, 2015, is the last day for receiving proposals for the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa Conference 2015. There are three main topics: Scotland; Photographs in Genealogy and Technology. Don`t hesitate to propose a talk on other topics likely to be of interest to a BIFHSGO audience.

The conference, will be held September 18 - 20, 2015, at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa.

See more information about submitting proposals at http://bifhsgo.ca/cpage.php?pt=125

A Visit to 395 Wellington

On Friday I took the opportunity of a warmer less brutally cold day to follow up on some research at Library and Archives Canada.
Since BIFHSGO was forced to move its monthly meetings from the building, when the rental fee became excessive, I've had less occasion to visit.
I took the opportunity to see what's changed. On the second floor south, an area that used to house the National Library open shelf reference collection, the shelving has been removed and the carpet replaced. I hope management has plans for better use of this prime space which has been underused for many years.

At the far end of the room above, under the mural, is a set of double door leading to a little, or at least lesser known reference materials area. It too has had attention, the shelves seem less cramped than I remember them being. I was pleased to find the Ayres' and McKim's newspaper directories had been retained.
Some of the space is occupied by old library card catalogues. Judging by this notice they have not been updated since 1980. Is 35 years long enough for a decision to now be made that they should no longer be occupying prime downtown real estate. Perhaps they could be moved to the Canadian Museum of History as another element of inter-organizational cooperation.

Here's another space in the same area which has had some attention but is ripe to reevaluation of its use.

I found LAC staff as helpful as ever and quickly completed my research. Wandering over to the genealogy area where there is a display of recent magazines from Canadian societies and publishers I noticed the selection didn't correspond to the notice posted that these were the latest issues. The Spring 2014 issue of Anglo-Celtic Roots was the last available. Are later issues stuck on a staff member's desk?

Sunday, 25 January 2015

A Successful Day for OGS Ottawa Branch

Ottawa Branch organizers were unsure how many people to expect for their Back to Basics - Getting Started session given by Mike More on Saturday morning at Ottawa`s City Archives. When 45 people showed up it was sure they were meeting a demand and that the publicity by Stephanie Dean had been effective. Others in the room also answered attendees questions after the presentation, Gloria Tubman handling home child queries. Dealing with questions on Armenian family history proved more of a challenge -- always a danger with open genealogy sessions.

The afternoon saw about 35 people in the room for the regular branch monthly meeting. Elizabeth Kipp related her experiences, benefits and contributions, as a member of the Guild of One Name Studies (Alexa rank 329,264), the new Surname Society (Alexa rank 963,721) and the Society of One Place Studies (Alexa rank 2,077,107). What's the difference between the Guild and the Surname Society? With the Guild you register to research a surname wherever it occurs and undertake to respond reasonably promptly to queries. You become the world expert. The Surname Society allows members to register their interest in as many names as they care to mention and hope to make connections.
All three societies are making use of social media. Searching on YouTube will bring up recordings of hangouts and other events from each organization.
In addition to these contributions Elizabeth mentioned she is on line parish clerk for Bishops Nympton and Winterbourne Clenstone.
About ten people stayed after the monthly meeting for the Computer Special Interest Group. Doug Grey demonstrated accessing the archives of the Ottawa Journal from the City Archives. Doug also commented how glad he is that Global Genealogy is now making publications available as pdfs mentioning particularly two volumes of The Ontario Photographers List. I had to leave the group early but not before asking about experience with Fences for Windows and receiving advice and a positive recommendation regarding malwarebytes.org.

Toronto Neighbourhood History Online

Toronto Public Library staff have created an interactive map to assist users in discovering resources in the Library’s collections for 107 neighbourhoods.

Included are historical pictures, maps and atlases, ephemera (posters, flyers, etc.) and e-books in the Library’s Digital Archive as well as catalogue records for print books and in other formats. Links to external sites that library staff recommends are also provided from the map.

Find out more at the blog post Find the history (and cool historical images) of your neighbourhood!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Mallorytown presentation Shadows in the Tree

On Sunday Jan.25, 2015 at 2 pm, the 1000 Islands River Heritage Society in partnership with the Front of Yonge Library presents Jennifer Debruin who will be discussing her latest book, Shadows in the Tree, the tale of a United Empire Loyalist and her journey to what is now Canada.

A lifelong resident of Eastern Ontario, Jennifer is interested in exploring the human story within the rich history of the region and writes fact-based fiction that engages readers in “discovering the humanity in the history.”

The event is at the Mallorytown Community Centre, 76 County Rd. 5 Mallorytown, Ontario. This is the first in a series of planned presentations to be given over the next few months. The following presentation is on Sunday February 22, 2015 when BIFHSGO member Gloria Tubman will speak on Researching British Home Children.

Program for the National Genealogy Conference in Canada

Now available at www.visiontravel.ca/heidiwilker/en/conference-schedule is the full three-day program for this conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 17-19 July 2015. There's further information under the More option in the black top right hand menu bar.

Thanks to Heidi Wilker for the tip.

Friday, 23 January 2015

FreeBMD January Update

The FreeBMD Database was last updated on Thursday 22 January 2015 to contain 244,124,784 (243,519,549) distinct records. Years with major updates since December are: for births 1943, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1971, 1973-74; for marriages 1952, 1965-66, 1968-69, 1971-75; for deaths 1971-74.

Family Tree: February 2015 issue

The Sherlock Holmes silhouette on the front cover for the February issue of Family Tree highlights an article by Roy Stackdill "Inside a Researcher's Casebook."  A veteran researcher and former journalist who enjoys researching celebrity family trees, in theis article he draws lessons from research on Charlie Chaplin, Colin Dexter (creator of Inspector Morse), Josephine Tewson (who played Elizabeth, neighbour and victim in Keeping Up Appearances) Dame Judi Dench and more, each a tricky investigation.

In other major articles in the issue you can read about tracing WW1 merchant sailors; reckoning old weights, measures and money, finding graves online; reading Scottish wills and testaments, WW1 fashions, and death duties. Shorter articles include those by regular columnists and What Makes a Must Read Family History Blog (thanks to magazine editor Helen Tovey for the mention of Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections).

Ancestry adds recent British Death Indexes

When the British government ended availability of recent civil registration indexes an opportunity opened up for the private sector. One of the companies that stepped in to the breach is Wilmington Millennium providing a service to help keep company customer databases up to date and avoid fraud by people using a deceased's identity.

Now Ancestry has made some of that data available on two databases:

England and Wales, Death Index, 2007-2013, with 1,492,728 records
Scotland and Northern Ireland, Death Index, 1989-2013, with 413,518 records

I wondered if the data for England and Wales was a copy of the probate index, also on Ancestry. A small sample showed a little overlap. Some deaths I know occurred are missing.

While all the examples I checked used data from Wilmington Millennium the overall sources for the Ancestry database is given as "British Death Indexes. Various sources." Perhaps there are others.