Saturday, 3 October 2015

Additions to the Canadian Gravemarker Gallery

Six cemeteries in The Canadian Gravemarker Gallery were added, or gained additional entries in the past month:

Nova Scotia, Hants County, Enfield, Elmsdale Cemetery. 7 index pages
Ontario, Central Ontario, Hastings County, Quinte West. Stockdale. 20 index pages
Ontario, Central Ontario, Simcoe County, Midland, St. Margaret's R.C. 26 inex pages
Ontario, Central Ontario, Simcoe County, Tay Twp, Waubaushene, St. John's R.C., 11 inex pages
Ontario, Northern Ontario, Sudbury District, Sudbury, LaSalle Cemetery - Block A. Re-photographed., 7 index pages
Ontario, Southwestern Ontario, Grey County, Hanover, St. George's, 1 index page

Murray Pletsch's Canadian Gravemarker Gallery provides free access to everyone and has over 1,535 completely photographed cemeteries and about 947,200 grave marker photographs online.

FreeBMD October Update

The FreeBMD Database was updated on Thursday 1 October 2015 to contain 249,574,602 (249,116,513) distinct records.
Major updates, more than 5,000 records, are: for births 1963-64, 1966, 1971, 1973-75; for marriages 1966, 1968, 1971-75; for deaths 1973-74, 1976.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Findmypast adds "elite" college registers

Check out the "elite" in these "Public" School registers new at Findmypast

Berkshire, Eton College Register 1441-1698, estimated 6,000 records
London, Dulwich College Register 1619-1926, 18,000 records
Sussex, Lancing College Register 1901-1954, estimated 1,600 records

Entries in the original images are typically 2 to 5 lines with name, father and sometimes mother name, date of entry, sometimes date of birth, brief details of achievements at school and in life.

Also this week, records for Long Island, Staten Island  and some adjacent areas in the state of New York.

New York baptisms 1660-1862
New York marriages 1639-1900
New York deaths & burials 1758-1862

October Backup Nag

Did you check off doing the start of the month hard drive backup? If you haven't done a backup in the past month, and you neglected the first of the month reminders, your backup is overdue. Do it now.

Book Review: 'Til Death us do Part - causes of death 1300 - 1948

This slim volume, published in Australia by Unlock the Past, is one of three of Janet Few's guides I picked up at the BIFHSGO conference.

The table of contents is:

Epidemics and infections
Work related diseases
The effects of urbanisation
The effects of poverty
Suicide, murder and accident
Why did things change?
Finding causes of death
Further reading
Some British epidemics

It so happened a talk to BIFHSGO on old disease names had been suggested to me recently - this guide has information ample to satiate most genealogist's curiosity without overwhelming medical detail. I came away grateful to be living at a time and a place with 21st century medical knowledge and where the formidable array of barber surgeon tools shown in page 14 are only to be found in museums.

The guide's 28 numbered pages include two pages of advertising and a blank page. It's a slim volume. The introduction starts at page 5, the end material starts on page 22 with suggestions for further reading, followed by a two page list of British epidemics by year and a two page index. A typical page is 21 cm tall, 14-1/4 cm wide, with 5 cm top, 2 cm bottom and 1-1/2 cm side margins.

Information is compacted in what would appear to be 8.5 point type. A larger type would have been welcome in consideration of those of us with declining vision. Fortunately there's a eBook version. You can read a pdf sample at

In Canada 'Til Death us do Part - causes of death 1300 - 1948 is available for $12 from Global Genealogy.

Thursday, 1 October 2015 free access weekend

Another chance to try out the Ancestry British collections free (with registration) for a limited time - that's the news that came in earlier today. This weekend, October 2 -4 gorge on those records you've been curious about. It's a good opportunity as there are no local (Ottawa) genealogy events scheduled.

Celebrate Library Month and support fair Ebook prices for libraries

I'm a strong believer in municipal library service - and a user. The following is a press release from the Ottawa Public Library.
Throughout the month of October, Canadians across our country will be celebrating libraries. From building communities and transforming lives to inspiring learning, sparking curiosity, and connecting people, libraries are pillars of our community. 
Every day this month, the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) will be showcasing a different service or item available to customers that they might not have known about. Follow OPL on Twitter and Facebook to find out more about what the Library can do for you. 
“I don’t think people realize all the amazing things they can access and do for free at their public library,” said Tim Tierney, Chair of the Ottawa Public Library Board and Councillor for Ward 11 Beacon Hill – Cyrville. “We want to raise awareness of our services so that everyone in Ottawa takes advantage of their local library.” 
For example, did you know you can stream music, movies and TV shows for free? Or that you can drop off your old batteries to get recycled at most branches? Maybe you weren’t aware that you can access free business services, where a specialist will meet with you one-on-one?
Celebrate Library Month, and support the campaign for fair Ebook prices for libraries.

Nenshi on Doing the Right Thing

For Canadians only:

If you're thinking none of the major party candidates are offering inspirational leadership in this federal election, and wondering if it's even possible, look to a more junior level of government. Listen to Naheed Nenshi, mayor of Calgary, in this broadcast from CBC Radio's Ideas. It's 55 minutes well spent.

English Indices of Deprivation

Using statistics for income, employment, health, disability, crime and living standards, the UK Department for Communities and Local Government has published ranks for 32,844 areas of England by local authority according to where they stand in the 2015 national poverty league table.
While 2015 statistics are likely of limited interest for those whose ancestors left England generations ago the areas of poverty do tend to persist. 83 per cent of neighbourhoods that are the most deprived according to the 2015 Index were also the most deprived according to the 2010 Index.
Middlesbrough, Knowsley, Kingston upon Hull, Liverpool and Manchester are the local authorities with the highest proportions of neighbourhoods among the most deprived in England.
While gentrification has meant the London Boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Haringey have become relatively less deprived seven of the 10 local authority districts with the highest levels of income deprivation among older people are in London.
Delve into the statistics in depth at and, reflect that nothing like such statistics are available in Canada owing to decisions of the Harper government.

Benchmarks Update for September

There were 13 gainers, 16 losers in Alexa rank of key genealogy websites this past month. All Canadian-based sites, with the exception of, declined in rank. The colour coding indicates in green those that have gained in rank, becoming more popular; in red are those that have declined. Changes of more than 10% in Alexa rank are bolded.

myHeritage.com4,3714,240,53615,912          42,640          53,878

cyndislist.com67,01065,025          60,893          57,569
ogs.on.        642,141        575,595
ngsgenealogy.org356,400 359,631

The top rankings of all websites on Alexa are unchanged:,,,,,,,,

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

British Newspaper Archive Additions for September

The British Newspaper Archive now has 11,756,577 pages from 509 titles online. Additions in September, alas nothing for Norfolk, are:

Win a Scottish Webinar Registration

FREE should attract a Scotsman's attention! See below for how you can win the opportunity to attend a webinar free of charge.

The Scottish Special Interest Group (SIG) of the Ontario Genealogical Society have organized a series of webinars over the fall and winter months.

The First webinar, this Saturday October 3, 1:00 pm EDT,  has Shirley Sturdevant on Gathering Oral and Family Histories
  • Discover how to plan for and conduct oral history interviews.
  • Discuss ways to encourage other family members to contribute their photos, history and memories.
  • Get motivated to tell your own story.
  • Of importance to the Scottish family historian is preserving the superstitions, old Scottish words and phrases, recipes and nursery rhymes for future generations.
To register:

The webinars are $14.95 Canadian ($11 US) If not able to attend the live event register and pay to get 30 days to access the recording.
After paying expenses any excess goes into the Symposium fund to bring a speaker over from Scotland in 2017 for a day or two of learning about Scottish genealogy.

The first person to email to < johndreid at gmail dot com > identifying all errors with the statement below will win free access to Saturday's or one of the other webinars scheduled  - information at
"The founders of The Scotsman newspaper in 1820 were lawyer Charles Ritchie and customs official William Maclaren."

TNA Podcast: Kew lives – reconstructing the past

In this short (15 minute) talk from 3 September 2015 Emily Ward-Willis explains how to research the local history of an area, using the Mortlake Terrace shops in Kew as a case study.
The study is based on census and directory information found at TNA and local archives. Mention is made of the 1910 valuation office survey although it was not available for the area.
Two case studies are described, the robbery of a property by a police officer and the death of a First World War sailor and remarriage of his widow..
The talk, a contribution to the Know Your Place festival, a celebration of the heritage of Richmond upon Thames is well organized and was clearly presented.
Unfortunately, as is too often the case with TNA podcasts, the audio has intermittent problems and there is reference to illustrations which are not available. Such technical difficulties, which should not be hard to address, reflect poorly on TNA.'s consideration for its online clients.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Help Peter Calver make 100,000

The Lost Cousins newsletter is a steal. It's free and full of news and great tips for those with British ancestry. Issued twice a month you can subscribe by going to the LostCousins website  and join using the link in the left hand column.
Peter is aiming to reach 100,000 subscribers by the end of September and has less than 100 to go. Help make his day, and do yourself a favour.
The most recent issue has a article Understanding DNA #5: choosing the right test which starts "Most people who take DNA tests are in danger of wasting their money - because they haven't developed a strategy."  As well as being a worthwhile article it typifies Peter's concern that subscribers get value for money -- and in more than genealogy.

UPDATE: Pater made 100,000.

New Ancestry

Ancestry favoured me with a message that on Tuesday (that would be today) "Canadians will have the chance to try an updated Ancestry experience, with the site redesigned to transform how Canadians discover and tell their family story."

According to this information the new features are:

•                    LifeStory, which uses events, sources and relationships you’ve collected in your family tree to create a holistic, time-based narrative of these moments;

•                    Historical Insights will now appear within your ancestor’s life story, giving you context about the events that impacted their lives;

•                    Facts and Galleries will transform how you view, arrange and share the details of your ancestors’ lives.

You can check out the promo video.

It seems I've been seeing these new features for a couple of weeks, maybe longer although perhaps not on the .ca site.

It's best to refrain for making snap judgements on whether these are just new, or new and improved. Anything new involves a learning experience; I found myself floundering to find a path to things I previously knew how to access.

The historical insights are rather rudimentary.  My great-grandfather died in October 1914 but the only two historical insights for his 77 year-long life were World War One-related.

Uncertainty in Science and Genealogy

Can you handle the truth? Some ugly facts in science and sensibility, an article in Monday's Guardian rehearses the points made by Tracey Brown in a lecture at the British Library.  Tracey is director of Sense About Science, a charity that works to put science and evidence in the hands of the public.

Reality for researchers and genealogists is that our facts are always probabilities. Is the presumed father the biological father? Was there a hidden adoption? It's never “are you sure?” but “do we know enough.”  In genealogy are we certain enough of the identity of an ancestor to move on and research their ancestors sufficiently confident we're not barking up the wrong family tree? Is the patiently researched, or not-so patiently researched, path back to Edward I, or another prominent or notorious ancestor, sometimes one and the same, we might like to claim the truth?

I'm looking forward to listening to Tracey Brown's lecture as a podcast on the Guardian site available from Friday 2 October.

If you're interested in probability in genealogy come to my BIFHSGO talk on Saturday 10 October 2015 You Be the Judge: Did DNA Prove the Skeleton under the Leicester Car Park was Richard III? There will be a reminder closer to the date.