Friday, 23 June 2017

UK Who Do You Think You Are? 2017 celebrities

How many of these names mean something to you? Who do you think they are?

Charles Dance
Craig Revel Horwood
Clare Balding
Adil Ray
Emma Willis
Lisa Hammond
Sir Ian McKellen
Noel Clarke
Fearne Cotton
Ruby Wax

See their claim to celebrity here

Paper of Record and JSTOR at LAC

For months, perhaps years, I've been pointing out to the folks in the Genealogy Room at 395 Wellington that the link on their computers to Paper of Record has not worked. For almost as long I've been told it would be fixed.
This week I received an email from Julie Roy, Manager of Reference Services, who finally made it happen. I went to the building to check it out - joy of joys - success. Thank you Julie.
Julie also mentioned that links to three other databases: JSTOR, LLMC and MUSE have also been fixed.
hile on the 3rd floorI tried JSTOR which Marian Press mentioned at the end of her presentation at #OGSConf2017. US-based JSTOR is an online database of more than 2,000 full text searchable scholarly journals and some books providing an opportunity to put ancestors in historical and local context. Some of the older journals do provide lists of names.
If you missed Marian's presentation there's a  free webinar on How to Use JSTOR at which ends with an explanation of the various ways you can gain access including the limited free individual subscription at

Third anniversary: Dr Guy Berthiaume

Today, 23 June 2017 is the third anniversary of Dr Guy Berthiaume assuming the role of Librarian and Archivist of Canada.
Congratulations are due on having established partnerships, raised both the profile of LAC and the morale of the staff.
There is progress, and significantly more work to be done, in digitization and making collection materials available online for all wherever they live.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Findmypast free long weekend

Just as well it wasn't last weekend and #OGSConf2017!

Findmypast offers 5 days of FREE access to over 1.1 billion of their records for British and Irish research. FMP says that includes:

  • The world’s most comprehensive collection of British and Irish parish records
  • Double the Irish family history records of our closest competitor
  • More British military service and pension records than anywhere else online.
You will need a free registration for access.

It will not include the 1939 National Registration nor newspapers.

Those of us with subscriptions benefit too from a three day extension to our membership.

Many Families, Issue No. 3

Tad and Terry Findley's annual family history magazine Many Families, number 3, features the Wickham, Durham and Rotton families.
Wickham is found mostly in the south of England. It's Tad's maiden name so unsurprisingly, and given that information is available on seven generations, is the subject of about half this issue. I challenge you to start reading "Look Where You Step" and not be drawn into the Wickham family story which takes us to British Guiana and Trinidad, with journeys back to the UK, and eventually to Canada.
Rotton and Durham are families that married into the Wickhams.

In reviewing the previous volume I posed the question "Why buy a magazine for someone else's family?" The No. 3 issue again illustrates the truth of the answer given last time.
The articles are a model of research and writing;
The thrill of discovery is shared;
The layout is superb, an inspiration;
The content is an education, more than just about the families.
If you need more information, or to order a copy, email manyfamilies (at)

OGS Ottawa Branch June Meeting

The main event on Saturday, 24 June is a presentation "Osgoode Township Museum Resources" by Robin Cushnie.
"Robin will give an overview of the wealth of information and artefacts available at the Osgoode Township Museum. Resources include transcribed oral histories, census records, church, school, and tax records, maps, biographies and local histories. Many of these documents and publications are not available anywhere else and are not to be missed!"
Announcements and the presentation start at 1:30 pm. Socialize with drinks and cookies from 1 pm

Also on Saturday at 10 am  the Scottish Genealogy Group will meet, at 10:30 am Genealogy: Back to Basics offers "Evaluating Your Evidence" and following the main presentation the Computer Special Interest Group will meet.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Intelligent Searching

When Marian Press, a retired librarian and active genealogist gave her first presentation, Are You Really Finding It All When You Search?: Mining Databases for Every Nugget of Information, at #OGSCong2017 it was my pleasure to chair the session.

Marian started out covering the basics, Boolean  search operators: AND, OR and NOT. Whichever database you search they are the foundation of intelligent searching.

In thanking Marian I summarized what I saw as the key points:

1. Read the help screen. Each database has its idiosyncrasies. Time invested in understanding them will be time you won't thrash about with unproductive searches.
2. Start by taking time to formulate a specific search, then gradually broaden it for more results. Marian acknowledged that many people advise starting broad and refining.
3. Look beyond the first page. You may not be lucky on the first page of hits.


4. Specifically for FamilySearch, log on with a free account to get additional results and capabilities.

The Summer Solstice

The City of Ottawa Archives holds three scrapbooks with ads from R J Devlin, an Ottawa clothing retailer. They were recently transferred to the archives from the Ottawa Historical Society (OHS).

Today at 12:24 AM EDT the sun attained its most northerly point, the Tropic of Cancer.

The solstice was the topic of one of many humorous advertisements in volume one of Devlin's scrapbooks which are weather related. I've been looking at them as part of preparation for my talk on Ottawa weather history to the OHS in October.

The reference to the Scott Act is explained at

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Free Walking Tours of Ottawa Immigrant Neighbourhoods

Take a journey through some of Ottawa’s most interesting neighbourhoods.

As part of Welcoming Ottawa Week, June 20 to 30, 2017, the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership (OLIP), Heritage Ottawa, the City of Ottawa – Cultural Development and Initiatives section, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada have joined together to host a series of guided walking tours to Chinatown, Little Italy, Lowertown West and Lowertown East.

The walks are designed to showcase the important contributions of immigrants to the social, cultural, and economic development and vitality of these neighbourhoods.

See the schedule and register online by clicking on Registration and the bottom of the walk description at:

Thanks to Jean Yves Pelletier for the tip

50th anniversary of 395 Wellington

Today marks the day when Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson opened the building which then housed the separately administered National Library and National Archives of Canada at 395 Wellington Street.

The anniversary is being marked by an exhibit Building on History: Fifty Years of Preserving Memory at 395 Wellington Street in the Pellan Room at 395 Wellington Street (2nd floor) until September.

Guy Berthiaume presentation at OGS Conference 2017

Librarian and Archivist of Canada Guy Berthiaume was invited to speak at the opening of the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference last Friday evening. Below is a rough transcription of his remarks.
I'd particularly highlight the invitation in the penultimate paragraph.
A good part of my work is about creating connections with our clients, our stakeholders, the private sector and the general public. And I know the thrill of discovering connections is one of the reasons that genealogists and family historians are so passionate about what they do.
I recently came across an interactive website that uses digital technology to uncover fascinating networks of families in British history. Kindred Britain at Stanford provides all kinds of surprising connections. For example Winston Churchill is a direct descendant of King Henry VIII. Family ties connect Isaac Newton, Jane Austen, William Wordsworth and Florence Nightingale. The creator of the site calls it the social network of the past.
I begin with this example to illustrate that today's genealogy is not our grandfather's genealogy. The use of modern digital technology to illuminate family roots and history is producing surprising, creative and positive results.
Take our digitization work at LAC. We've worked closely with external partners to both digitize collections and to make more of them available, especially to our main client group - genealogists. As a result we've been able to digitize a lot more material than we could on our own and to make some of our biggest and most heavily used collections available to Canadians. I know that this external focus has not always been popular but in a time of limited resources I think it was the strategic choice. Mind you, working with partners is not a one size fits all solution, especially in the case of fragile and easily damaged documents.We want to digitize them while we can keep offering access to our clients. A case in point is the work on the Canadian Expeditionary Force service files you're all familiar with. I'm pleased to tell you the project is on track, at least according to John Reid. As of November 11 2018 all 640,000 soldier's files will be online. There are 340,350,355 files and they are some of our most consulted records, and for good reason. But a project of this magnitude uses a considerable amount of our resources so we have to look at other strategies to digitize additional collections.
Welcome DigiLab.
The way it used to be clients who needed digitial copies would either use our digitization on demand service for a fee or bring their own digital cameras into our reading rooms with mixed results. With DigiLab you can come into 395 Wellington and leave with digital copies of our collection for free. You come in and scan the material you need for your research. The space is easy to use and there's support to help you learn how to use the equipment. You leave with high quality scans and a spreadsheet with information on what you've scanned. But what's perhaps more exciting, LAC will them make the information you scanned available to anyone via its website. So DigiLab is crowdsourcing at its best.
This allows the public to help us with our work, meet the demand for accessible collections and harnesses knowledge about the material we have. and all we ask from you is some simple metadata so that others can search the information more easily online.
I'm happy to share three projects that have already been hosted by DigiLab.
Nichole Yakashiro who is completing her honours BA at the University of Toronto has an academic and personal interest in Landscapes of Injustice, a seven year project run out of the University of Victoria. Landscapes of Injustice is funded by SSHRC and its goal is to digitize historical records across the country related to the disposition and internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. As part of that project Nicole spent almost four weeks in DigiLab to digitize records that help tell the story of this sad chapter in our history. As a result over 130 related files will be placed online for everyone to consult.
Another interesting example is that of Marjelaine Sylvestre, the archivist from the Jardins de Métis in Québec. She spent a couple of days in the lab digitizing and describing 130 photographs taken by William Reford.
And there's also the work of one John Reid who digitized ten years of early Ottawa weather records from the late 1800s. As you know John holds a PhD in Atmospheric Science and he proposed this project to help support contemporary research into climate change.
So DigiLab is proof that crowdsourcing is an extremely effective way of making historical records available. But it's only one of our crowdsourcing tools.
There's another key initiative underway at LAC which I'm very excited about, and again it involves citizen archivists helping us tell the stories of history to a wider audience.
In June of last year the Manitoba Métis Federation celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Battle of
Seven Oaks, a battle which marked the emergence of the Métis nation. To support the anniversary LAC introduced software that lets people transcribe authentic historical documents. The first document to go through the process was the Coltman Report, handwritten in 1818 by William Coltman. The report provides one of the best sources on the fur trade war and is a key document in the history of the Métis Nation. the entire 521 page handwritten report was transcribed by members of the public eager to make a personal connection to history. A fully searchable pdf is now available in LAC's database, and we're about to launch a second initiative, the 91 page diary of Lady Susan Agnes Macdonald, the wife of Sir John A. I'm sure you'll agree that this diary is going to be fascinating reading - what was on her mind in that crucial time in our nation's history? How did she view the new Dominion of Canada starting in 1867 as her husband hammered out the details of the new confederation? What was her daily life like? What were her social obligations, her private experiences and her thoughts? By providing transcriptions of this material you can be a fly on the wall of history.
LAC is thrilled to open up these treasures from our collection to those who understand their importance and can add richer and enhanced information to them. Those who have valued knowledge of our collection and how it can be used. Those such as yourselves.
And here's another exciting development. As you may have heard, LAC is one of the founding members, not to say the architect - that's not a good term to use in Ottawa these days -  of the steering committee for the National Heritage Digitization Strategy. This strategy will make more content accessible to Canadians. It was developed by the major memory institutions of Canada, large public libraries, academic libraries and archives, provincial archives, national associations of archivists, librarians, historians and museums. We adopted a way to accelerate the digitization of the most important collections of Canada and to make them easily accessible to all, linking Canadians everywhere in their quest for culture and knowledge.The strategy will cover published and unpublished analogue materials of national, regional and local significance. That will include books, periodicals, newspapers, government records, posters and maps, thesis and artifacts, photographs and documentary art, film and video, audio recordings and more. I'm sure you'll agree that much of the material identified is of interest to genealogists.
You may also be interested in a small consultative project we launched to review best practices in the field of newspaper digitization. Thanks to a donation from the Salamander Foundation a pilot collection of indigenous newspapers will be digitized over the summer so we can give it a test run in the fall.
These are just some of the exciting initiatives we have on the go. And I would like to extend an open invitation to all of you to let us know what you need from us. What works in the DigiLab, what doesn't. Which of our collections do you want to see up on our site? This will be the key to our serving you well and allowing us to make the connections that define us as Canadians.

Thank you.

Monday, 19 June 2017

LivingDNA now has admixture confidence levels

Until today LivingDNA have provided admixture results for a standard level of confidence from global, regional and sub-regional geographic divisions. Now added are complete and cautious confidence levels. Here, to illustrate the changes you might expect to see between confidence levels, is a quick look at my results focusing on Europe.
Global level
At all confidence levels I have  European 98.5% and  unassigned 1.4%. At the complete level the  1.4% is specified as South Asia.
Regional level 
My cautious and standard confidence level European results are divided into Great Britain and Ireland 84.2%, Northwestern Europe-related ancestry 8.7%, and Europe (unassigned) 5.6%.
My complete level result retains Great Britain and Ireland 84.2%, with Europe (North and West) as 8.7%, add Europe (South) 4.3%, Europe (East) 1.4%.
Sub-regional level
My cautious confidence level results for Great Britain aggregate sub-regions to South Wales Border-related ancestry 42.9%, Lincolnshire-related ancestry 13.9%, Ireland-related ancestry 12.9% and Devon-related ancestry  7.6% and Great Britain and Ireland (unassigned) 6.8%.
The standard and (complete) confidence level results for Great Britain are almost identical:
South Wales Border 20.8% (20.8%)
Northwest England 10.6% (10.6%)
South Central England 9.9% (9.9%)
South Yorkshire 7.9% (7.9%)
Ireland 7.4% (7.4%)
Northwest Scotland 5.5% (5.5%)
Devon 5.3% (5.3%)
Southeast England 0% (4%)
Lincolnshire 3.3% (3.3%)
Central England 2.6% (2.6%)
Cornwall 2.3% (2.3%)
South Wales 1.6% (1.6%)

Note that LivingDNA recently added the ability to download your complete data which you can upload to Gedmatch.

#OGSConf2017: the end, a beginning

Over 300 people are registered for Using Ancestry Day on Monday, a separate event at the same Algonquin College location from the OGS conference. However, #OGSConf2017 proper wrapped up on Sunday afternoon. I heard many good comments.

Information was given at the closing ceremony about next year's OGS conference.

Location will be Guelph at the university.
Dates are 1-3 June.
The theme is “Upper Canada to Ontario - The Birth of a Nation”.
Sadly the marketplace will be in a different building from where the presentations will take place.
Conference co-chairs announced are Dianna Fulton and Kirsty Gray.
Program chair is Ruth Blair.
Headline speakers are Amy Johnson Crow and Jonathan Vance.
LivingDNA announced intention to repeat as Platinum sponsor.

Find the call for presentation proposals with details on the themes here.