Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Family Tree DNA to change how it assigns matches

Information has been posted by genetic genealogy uber-bloggers Blaine Bettinger and Debbie Kennett on a change coming at Family Tree DNA.
The Family Finder autosomal test will use new criteria to identify matches. Blaine has a nice flow diagram explaining the new criteria, but the bottom line is "Most people will see only minor changes in their matches, mostly in the speculative range. They may lose some matches but gain others."
If you want to be on the safe side you can download your present matches in CSV or Excel spreadsheet format from the bottom of your match listing.

Accidental Infant Death?

The 1880s saw growing concern at the high and rising number of deaths of children under one year old from suffocation in bed, routinely dismissed as accidental at Coroner's inquest hearings. Nationally 134 per thousand live births in 1881 rose to 174 in 1890.
In Bethnal Green in 1887, it was reported the 5 out of 6 infant deaths investigated were found to be suffocation cases in one room home in which entire family had to sleep in one bed. These deaths were said to be the result of a sleeping parent, or much older child, rolling on top of the smallest and accidentally killing them. Press reports noted that such  incidents were more common on Friday nights and Saturday mornings and Saturday nights and Sunday mornings and that this suggested that heavy drinking was a factor in the fatality.
Was there a darker explanation? How to be rid of an unwanted infant knowing that a Coroner's jury would be highly unlikely to pass any other verdict than accidental death?
It's likely a coincidence that this is following the August 1883 eruption of Krakatoa which sent a veil of dust into the stratosphere. Although, according to Wikipedia, average Northern Hemisphere summer temperatures fell by as much as 1.2 °C (2.2 °F) records for England don't show especially cold winters.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

BYU Family History Library on YouTube

James Tanner, best known for his Genealogy's Star blog, is part of a team from the Brigham Young University Family History Library placing genealogy videos on YouTube.

His latest is Using the Google Goldmine for Genealogy, a gentle overview of some of the most useful resources from Google. I perhaps flatter myself thinking that I know as much as the average genealogist about the Google constellation of resources, but I had to pause the video to explore a couple of the resources James mentioned.  At just over an hour you need to set aside time to get the value from it.
Videos have been added to the BYU FHL collection for over a year. You might want to browse through the collection to see if any of the others address you genealogical concerns, or, as James mentions, search more generally on YouTube to see if you can save $300 by learning how to change the battery on your Prius.

SCGS Free Presentations Online

The Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree is once again this year streaming live a selection of free presentations. The schedule is below:

Friday, June 3
FR008  German Immigrant Waves: Contrasts and Sources - James M.Beidler

FR018  Problems and Pitfalls of a "Reasonably Shallow" Search  - Elissa Scalise Powell, CG®, CGL®

FR027  Tracking Migrations and More: The Records of Old Settlers Organizations - Paula Stuart- Warren, CG®, FMGS, FUGA

FR035  Principles of Effective Evidence Analysis - George Goodloe Morgan

Saturday, June 4

SA009  Getting Started with Eastern European Research - Lisa A. Alzo, MFA

SA018  Be Your Own Digital Archivist: Preserve Your Research - Cyndi Ingle

SA022  German Names: Their Origins, Meanings, and Distribution - C. Fritz Juengling, PhD, AG®

SA032  Using Military Pension Files to Fill Gaps in Family History - J. H. Fonkert, CG®

SA037  Maximizing Your Use of Evidence - Thomas Wright Jones, PhD, CG®, CGL®, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

SA052  German Genealogy on the Internet: Beyond the Basics - Michael D. Lacopo, DVM

Sunday, June 5

SU009  The Firelands, the Connecticut Western Reserve and the Ohio Territory - Peggy Clements Lauritzen, AG®

SU010  Avoiding Shiny Penny Syndrome with Your Genealogy - Tessa Ann Keough

SU027  All Aboard: Staying on Track with Your Research - Barbara M. Randall

SU031  U. S. Passport Applications - Debbie Mieszala, CG®

They are free but you do have to register. See full details at

If you're at the Ontario Genealogical Society conference happening at the same time you won't be missing any UK, Irish or Canadian Jamboree presentations, there are none being streamed,

QFHS Offers Scan and Save Workshop

On Saturday, 28 May from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm Marilyn Gillespie and Deborah Robertson are offering a Scan and Save Workshop at the Quebec Family History Society Heritage Centre and Library, 173 Cartier Avenue, Suite 102, Pointe-Claire

The hands-on workshop will cover:
What scanner should I use?
How do I use my scanner for the best results?
How do I save the files and find them later?
and much, much, more.

Participants are invited to bring a handful of photographs under 8x10 inches to scan,
a memory stick to take them home and your questions

Fees are $20.00 for QFHS members, $25.00 for non-members.
Reservations at 514-695-1502 or

Monday, 23 May 2016

The Lethbridge Census

In Canada the next census we'll see is that of the Prairie Provinces taken on 1 June 1926 and scheduled for release in 2018.

In looking for news on that I found reference in the Lethbridge Herald of 8 December 1916 to a municipal census being conducted by the Board of Trade. The article headed Another 1900 Names Go on Census Lists mentions the total of 3,800 names. Does is survive somewhere in a backroom of Lethbridge?

Meanwhile, Statistics Canada is still running TV commercials encouraging people to complete the present census. It may be part of the planned campaign, I hope so and not an indication returns are coming in slowly.

Many "British Home Children" Were Not Children

According to Library and Archives Canada "Between 1869 and the late 1930s, over 100,000 juvenile migrants were sent to Canada from the British Isles during the child emigration movement."
According to an abstract for a presentation at OGS conference 2016 "Ten percent of the current Canadian population is descended from the up to 120,000 British children sent to Canada . . ."
The figure of 10%, or thereabouts, is frequently quoted although I've never had the basis satisfactorily explained.
Those figures depend on how one defines a child. Most estimates appear to be based on names and statistics recorded for those who came to Canada under programs operated by an agency, the most notable of which was Barnardos.
A common dictionary definition defines childhood as extending from infancy to puberty. A definition in terms of age is more administratively convenient with ages 14 and later 16 being applied consistent with the school leaving age. There is confusion between the state of being a child and a minor still legally under the care of a parent or guardian.
Library and Archives Canada's Home Child Records database at givess surname, given name(s), age, ship and year of arrival. There are limitations on the number of results you can view for a search. To explore how many would legally be considered children under various definitions I examined  a sample of immigrants with last name Smith who arrived between 1869 and 1899. There were 769 in total with ages given for 746 of them. Results are shown in the table.

AgePercentCumulative percent

This indicates that 39% of young immigrants in the LAC database arriving in the period were over the then current school leaving age of 14.
As a group the term "young immigrants" as used by Marjorie Kohli as the sub-title to her book The Golden Bridge, is more appropriate than children.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Genealogy à la carte distribution problem

My Montreal blogger friend Gail Dever writes that the normal email distribution on her Genealogy à la carte blog has not been working for a couple of days. In particular notice of her weekly crème de la crème post didn't get out, and it always contains things worth knowing about.

As always, you can find Genealogy à la carte at

Derbyshire Record Office Treasure 33 of 50

The Derbyshire Record Office is showcasing 50 treasures from its Archive and Local Studies collections. These are items that would never be picked for digitization by the big genealogy companies, chosen because they hold special meaning for staff and users that stir the imagination, tell the best stories, and reveal the secrets of the local history.
You can look through the collection of stories at starting with the most recent, the 33rd which has an Ottawa connection, at
The autobiography and poems of Leonard Wheatcroft of Ashover tells the story of how a large volume contains some of Wheatcroft's poems provided evidence for Christine Jackson's genealogical investigation of the Cowley family.
The Derbyshire link is the early part of the family history. You can read the complete story, with an emphasis on the family in the Ottawa Valley, in Christine's Bytown Pamphlet FromSteamboats to the NHL: The Ottawa Valley's Cowley Family published by The Historical Society of Ottawa.

Rural electrification in the Republic of Ireland

Rural Electrification came to Ireland between 1946 to 1965. This Google map shows the year electricity came to each of 792 areas. Chick on the location for more details.

via and thanks to a tip from Brenda Turner.

Alexander Rennie: Ottawa WW1 Beechwood burial

A century ago, 22 May 1916, saw the death at Kingston General Hospital from diphtheria and paralysis of the heart while on active service of Alexander Rennie of the 51st Battery, Canadian Field Artillery.
According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records he was age 22, the son of David Rennie, of Clark's Crossing, Sask., and the late Catherine Rennie. His father's address on the Circumstances of Casualty record is 32 Armstrong St., Ottawa and later 58 Ella St. There is no attestation paper on file at Library and Archives Canada.
According to the Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial he was born at Leswalt, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland and was working as a car checker when he enlisted at Ottawa four months before his death. He is remembered on the Leswalt War Memorial.
He was buried on 25 May and lies in Sec. D. Range 24. Grave 4 at Beechwood Cemetery where the CWGC gravemarker has the inscription "Where Death Divides Fond Memory Clings".

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Thanks OGS

A word of thanks to the Ontario Genealogical Society for mentioning my YouTube video Did DNA really prove it was Richard III's skeleton in the Leicester car park? in their weekly electronic newsletter called the OGS eWeekly Update.

The OGS eWeekly Update is available to anyone with an email address and you do not need to be an OGS member to subscribe. Just fill out the  subscription form at

Findmypast adds Westminster parish records

A third update to Findmypast's collection of parish records from the City of Westminster Archives Centre has added:

Over 1,000 new baptismal records, 1576 - 1928
Over 272,000 new banns records, 1792 - 1901
Over 409,000 new marriages covering more than 40 Westminster parishes, 1719 - 1945
Over 517,000 new burial records, 1575 - 1948

Dates are approximate. There are transcripts and images of originals.

The collection does not include Westminster Abbey, check Burials and memorials in Westminster Abbey.