Friday, 12 February 2016

RootsTech: too much of a good thing

My first trip, and last, to RootsTech was in 2013 and although enjoyable it was rather overwhelming. That's also the word John Grenham used in reporting on his trip just ended.

What's the problem?

The cost and hassle of getting to and returning from Salt Lake City,
The largely US orientation of the opening keynote sessions
Choosing one of the 15+ parallel session presentations to attend;
Fighting the crowds, 25,000 in attendance, to make your way to a presentation room, if you can find it before it fills up;
The  US/LDS orientation of much of the content
The hype

The pluses for me were:

Some of the more technical sessions, which were not well publicized.
One on one sessions with some other attendees, and with a few of the marketplace exhibitors.

As for presentations, I'll be happy instead with webinars and local opportunities.

So this year I've saved US dollars and will do my spending in UK pounds at WDYTYA? Live which is a more manageable scale, and one I can combine with a family visit.

Ancestry adds Crusheen, County Clare, Ireland, Catholic Records

Ancestry is going full tilt on Irish records. The latest addition is modest, unless you have interest in the parish of Causheen in County Claire in which case these detailed records will be most interesting.

Crusheen, County Clare, Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1860-2014, 15,726 records
Crusheen, County Clare, Ireland, Catholic School Records, 1862-1919, 23,433 records

These are indexed with links to original page images.

BIFHSGO Workshop: Maps and Mapping for 21st Century Genealogists

A reminder about registration this BIFHSGO workshop with James F.S. Thomson. Seats are limited with only 22 places left.  Registration closes March 1st. Do it now to avoid disappointment.

Registration is only available online through the members only section of the BIFHSGO website,

There will be no facilities to register at the meeting this Saturday and no registrations will be accepted by hand. However, if you have already registered and want to pay by cheque, Saturday's meeting provides an easy opportunity to hand your payment to Susan McKenzie at the BIFHSGO table in the lobby.

Here's the detail.

BIFHSGO Workshop: Maps and Mapping for 21st Century Genealogists
    5 March 2016 with James F.S. Thomson
This full day workshop will explore sophisticated ways in which maps and mapping tools can contribute to family history research, analysis and writing. Participants first will learn about a new generation of remarkable online sites permitting the integration of maps and other data. The majority of the workshop will concentrate on learning, through demonstrations and hands-on exercises, how a variety of mapping and other tools can be used creatively and effectively in genealogical projects. The workshop will enable participants to create unique maps, tailored to the needs of the compiler and incorporating data derived from different sources. Above all, this workshop will demonstrate that the current generation of genealogists has no need to limit themselves to the use of static maps created by others, either as research aids or in communicating project outcomes. Resources and examples used in the workshop will be chosen with British Isles research in mind, although the principles and techniques described will be independent of geography.
This workshop is designed for intermediate and advanced-level genealogists who are comfortable using computers and navigating the internet. Having a Google account would be an advantage with respect to part of the workshop, but is not a prerequisite.
Instructor: James F.S. Thomson
James F. S. Thomson has designed and taught over a dozen advanced and expert-level family history courses co-sponsored by Toronto Branch OGS and the Toronto Public Library, including three sold-out runs of the four-session course Maps and Mapping for 21st Century Genealogists. For these courses and in his articles and presentations at conferences and workshops (including workshops on maps and mapping at the 2014 and 2015 OGS conferences), as well as in his capacity as a University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies instructor, James draws on over thirty years of experience of family and local history research.
This workshop will be held at Algonquin College from 9:30 a.m. til 5:00 p.m. on Saturday the 5th of March and will cost $60, including breaks and lunch.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Just a few more hours .. OGS Conference 2017 presentation proposals

Jane Down, Program Chair OGS Conference 2017 has asked that I remind blog readers about the 15 February deadline for presentation proposals.

In case you missed it here's the call.

Our Canada - Your Family: Building a Nation

Call for Presentations OGS Conference 2017

The annual Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2017 will be held in Ottawa on June 16-18, 2017 at Algonquin College. The theme of the conference is Our Canada – Your Family: Building a Nation. As 2017 will be the 150th anniversary of the birth of Canada, Ottawa Branch OGS will host the annual OGS conference and give the Conference a national flair, bringing together genealogists and family historians from all over Canada. We are looking for speakers and talks of interest to genealogists from all provinces.

In keeping with this theme, we invite proposals for presentations on: family history from every region and territory of Canada (e.g. Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies and British Columbia); migration to and from Canada and also within Canada and how this helped to not only build our families, but also Canada; pre- and post-1867 research in Upper Canada; religious associations; military connections; the latest updates on computer, social media and genealogy database technology; the ever growing use of DNA testing for genealogy; and skill-building for family historians (e.g. use of the genealogy proof standard, getting more out of online resources).  Speakers from other related disciplines are welcome! Statisticians, demographers, archaeologists, researchers, archivists, librarians, geographers, cartographers, scientists, theologians, doctors, PhD candidates, software gurus, internet intellectuals, social media mavens, and historians of all kinds have information of interest to family historians and we would like to hear from you!  

Most sessions will be one hour long. Sessions may be streamed in or out of the Conference venue. Topics for interactive, hands-on workshops are also welcome (typically half-day sessions). Speakers will receive an honorarium, plus appropriate expenses and complimentary Conference registration. In early 2017, speakers will submit content for inclusion in a syllabus. 

Please submit your proposals by e-mail. Include your full name, mailing address, telephone number, e-mail address, website address (if applicable) and biographical information including recent speaking credits. For each proposal, please provide a unique title, a summary of your presentation (250 words maximum), the intended audience (beginner, intermediate, advanced) and your A/V requirements. Multiple proposals are encouraged. 


To submit proposals or ask questions, please contact the Conference 2017 Program Committee at: 

For more information about OGS or Ottawa Branch respectively, please visit: or

Comment:  I have no idea why OGS considers it necessary to have such an early deadline for a conference which is more than 15 months away. I'm led to understand it's dictated by OGS HQ, a deadline the folks organizing the Toronto conference this June have ignored with, seemingly, excellent results.

FamilySearch adds England, Durham Diocese, Marriage Bonds & Allegations, 1692-1900

This is a browse file organized chronologically, a file for each year, of marriage bonds and allegations for Durham and Northumberland. In browsing a few for 1749 I noticed one for Cumberland.

Contents are names of the marriage partners, marital statuses (whether single or widowed), parish of residence and sometime ages, occupations and other information on the marriage partners,

There is no name index so you need a marriage date to search around to home in on which of the 108,720 images is of interest, if any. The source is Durham University Library,

Start browsing from

BIFHSGO February Meeting

There's a forecast high temperature of -21C on Saturday the 13th, likely the coldest day of winter 2015-16 in Ottawa. That's the coldest since 22 January 2005, colder than ever recorded in Ireland, although not as cold as record low temperatures recorded in England, Scotland, Wales -- or Battersea.

It will be even colder as the temperature rises mid-morning from the overnight low forecast of -27C, Sun is promised as people gather for the BIFHSGO monthly meeting.
The main event is A Scandal in Battersea presented by Gail Roger.
By the time he was 41, Gail Roger's great-grandfather had lost his five siblings to tuberculosis, drowning, laudanum, and cirrhosis of the liver. With a couple of nods to Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper, Gail will share the tale of a scandal that took place in Battersea.
Come for 9:00 a.m. to hear the Before BIFHSGO Education Talk — Family Tree Maker is Defunct Family Tree Maker NOT is Defunct - What do I do now! by Rick Roberts. I'm wondering with the announcement that FTM will continue under new ownership how that will be presented.
At 9:30 a.m. browse the Discovery Tables — Learn what Global Genealogy and the Ontario Genealogical Society Ottawa Branch have to offer.
The meeting is open to members and visitors. Free admission and parking. The Chamber, Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive, Ottawa. More information about this meeting is available at in the Meetings section.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

TNA blog post: ‘Maimed and not fit for manual labour’?

TNA looks at the situation of maimed British ex-servicemen after the First World War through the eyes of double amputee Thomas Kelly, a private in the Gordon Highlanders. Many men showed resilience in dealing with the bureaucracy of rehabilitation.
Read the blog post at

Ancestry adds two Irish military web databases

Do you have relatives who served in the military with Ireland around the time to Independence? If so these two web databases may hold information of interest.

Web: Ireland, Military Service Pension Index, 1916 - 1923 has 4,417 records is from Defense Forces Ireland. The index gives name, birth date, death date and Easter Rising location. Click through for additional information including a detailed description of the circumstances related to the application for a pension under Subject Information.

Web: Ireland, National Army Census, 1922 Military  with 33,460 records links through to an image of the original census form with location at time of census, rank, corps, name, age, home address, number on paybook, date and place of attestation, single of married, relation to next of kin and name and address of next of kin. The information is from Ireland's Military Archives.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Findmypast to recognize Canada

It has been disappointing that Findmypast has shown little interested in Canadian records.
Now it appears that will start to change this year with their plan to add the Canadian census records toward the end of the year. That will be followed by new digitization of other records.

See the news in this interview from RootsTech.

Ancestry adds Web: Ireland, Baptism Index, 1571-1912 database

Ancestry has web linked to 2,068,308 index records published by Ireland's Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The source link is

Content is heavy on Dublin records; of 42,258 records for surname Kelly, 37,035 are for parishes in Dublin. There's also content from counties Carlow, Cork, and Kerry.

A reminder, Ancestry Web Records "are published online by entities other than What you see on is an index of basic information (such as names, dates, places and family members) that aids in searching. Often you can find out much more by visiting the source website, including references, publication information, comments, historical context, and even images.
In some cases you may need to perform a search on the external website to find the record you’re looking for."

John Grenham's Final Irish Times Column

Here is the text of John Grenham's final column for the Irish Times.

The “Irish Roots” column began on February 28th, 2009, almost exactly seven years ago. This is the last one.
Looking back over that period, the blink of a gnat’s eye in genealogical terms, there is no doubt that a revolution in access to records has taken place, one that in Ireland is quite peculiar. Back then, genealogy in other English-speaking countries – Australia, the US, the UK – was already becoming web-centric, researchers having long realised what a marriage made in heaven existed between family history data and computers. In those places, genealogy was already commercial and quickly underwent the same process of globalising merger and acquisition that the internet seems to force on all businesses. Giant global oligopolies are the result: MyHeritage, FindMyPast, Ancestry.
Here in Ireland we did things differently. The first attempt to harness genealogy for tourism was a complete organisational dog’s dinner, with heritage centres, county libraries, local community groups and many others yoked together in a project that was part-genealogy, part-community employment, part parish-pump political stroke. But it produced a result:, still the only essential Irish genealogy website.
Ad-haughery [sic] like this became the main feature of most Irish online record projects. One individual or institution would take on a project and carry it over the finish line: the National Archives census site; the Library Council’s Griffith’s site; the National Library’s parish registers site; Arts, Tourism and the Gaeltacht’s church and civil records site.
All (including rootsireland) were motivated by a straightforward desire to serve the Irish public, which in later years also came to mean all those worldwide who claimed Irish roots. The result is that Irish research is now less commercial, more open, a bit messier but, above all, much easier than in any of those places that started before us.
It’s a very un-Irish thing to say, but we’ve been lucky. And we’ll meet again down the road, with a little more luck.

I'll continue to follow John at

Monday, 8 February 2016

Thanks to the Arnprior & McNab/Braeside Archives

On Saturday it was my pleasure to be the invited speaker at the AGM of The Arnprior & McNab/Braeside Archives.
It was my first trip to Arnprior in several years with the opportunity to visit the compact downtown. The Arnprior Book Shop is a traditional small town independent that doesn't overwhelm you like the major chains. It's connected inside to a gift store and a coffee shop which provided a delicious coffee cake to accompany my coffee.
The AGM started on time and was short with no issues and reelection of the volunteer board members.
My talk "Blowin’ in the Wind: Ottawa Valley Weather Events and People" solicited lots of questions, notably about microclimate and the impact of local geography.
That was followed by snacks, opportunity to make a donation for those so inclined, and a tour of the archives which impressed me with the evident organization.
The Archives receives financial support for being the repository of the official records of the communities of Arnprior and of McNab/Braeside, so performing a function required for any Ontario municipality. There is a valuable collection of land records, newspapers, and the Handford Studio Collection of local portrait photographs, many of them glass plate negatives.
I'd like to thank President Julie Hartwick for her kind introduction. Thanks also to archivist Laurie Dougherty for her help before and during the event and for the tour. She will have her hands full completing the work for the Documentary Heritage Communities Program Grant received late last year to upgrade the online database and improve the website as well as with the digitization projects which will follow if a second award of a DCP Grant is made.

Findmypast announces indexed Irish Catholic records coming

RootsTech, just ended, was the occasion for Findmypast to announce the imminent release of 10 million Irish Catholic parish records.
The March release will cover over 200 years of history, from 1671-1900, over 1,000 parishes transcribed from 3,500 baptism and marriage registers from the National Library of Ireland (NLI).
This is a transcript for images placed online my the NLI last July.
As mentioned in my post at that time the quality of the originals leaves much to be desired. There are missing and illegible pages so even though they are Catholic records don't expect miracles.