A little diversion - in colour 1928 doesn't seem so long ago.
Monday, 30 March 2015
Before the month is over a quick look at the March issue of the Society of Genealogists magazine. As an overseas members I don't get to benefit from much that SoG has to offer, particularly as I rarely get to their major genealogical library. The magazine is one of the tangible benefits of membership. I'd probably continue to support SoG even without that because of the advocacy role.
The frontspiece message from the chairman mentions overseas members. Apparently SoG has 1,106 such members constituting about 11% of the total from some 50 countries. Chair Buckley sees embracing the opportunities to increase global membership, by offering access to the unique collections and services, as important for the Society future. Will we see webinars?
For me the highlight of the issue was Ian H Waller's article "In a Class of Their Own: Keeping the Royal Navy Battle-Ready", about researching Royal Navy Warrant Officers.
Also of interest were:
Charlie Cooke-Parker's article Personal Medical Records of WW1 announcing the first records of an eventual 1.5 million records transcribed from TNA covering July 1915 to August 1918. These are to be online at the military genealogy website Forces War Records.and
M.L Bierbrier's short article New Developments in Medieval Genealogy subtitled "To DNA or not to DNA" looking at issues following the extraction of DNA from the skeleton of what is virtually certainly Richard III.The magazine includes 17 pages listing additions to the library and document collections. While some people with ready access to the library must see this as highly valuable I do wonder if it's material which would better be available only online rather than in a costly publication shipped internationally.
Still jet-lagged from recent travels I decided not to attend this year's Ottawa Branch OGS Gene-O-Rama event held this past Friday evening and Saturday but did stop by for an hour to catch up in the marketplace. Heather Oakley, co-Chair for the event along with Branch Chair Doug Gray, told me that attendance was up from 2014; the marketplace was buzzing.
As I didn't attend any sessions I can't comment on the presentations, I did catch a few seconds of Lesley Anderson and Glenn Wright's well attended presentation The Circle of Life: Ontario Vital Records while visiting displays located at the back of the Cafetorium. The ongoing presentation meant I couldn't speak with Malcolm and Chris Moody from Archive CD Books Canada.
Global Genealogy had a prominent display of publications from Australian publishing company Unlock the Past for which they have the North American distribution rights. Rick and Sandra Roberts explained that by printing these in Canada they could sell for much less than if they had to import. Some of the authors in this series, Janet Few, Thomas MacEntee and Chris Paton will be speaking at the BIFHSGO conference in September. Maybe Global Genealogy will be able to negotiate a similar arrangement with British publishers, like Pen and Sword, to bring the price of their books down too.
Rick and Jennifer Cree from Moorshead Magazines showed an array of their magazines and Tracing Your Ancestors Series magazine-format publications, the most recent of those being on Italian Genealogy. Rick seemed pleased with the acceptance of Your Genealogy Today, the renamed Family Chronicle magazine. They have ideas for further Tracing Your Ancestors Series issues but nothing to announce yet.
Kyla Ubbink of Book and Paper Conservation told me the presentations she's been giving on archiving digital resources for the Ottawa Public Library have been very popular; another, Caring for Your Digital Photographs for the Ottawa City Archives, is scheduled for 2 May. She recommended Googling "digital preservation coalition" for those like me who may not appreciate what's involved - apparently there's more to it than LOCKSS - Google that too if need be.
In the same room Ken McKinlay seemed to be having a more tranquil time with the computer resources giving free access to ancestry.com and findmypast.com than on Friday when there were internet connection problems. Ken mentioned having attended a recent event at the War Museum when an episode from the soon to be aired muilti-part television and online Documentary series, The Great War Tour with Norm Christie was shown.
There were several stands from non-commercial groups.
The Ottawa Stake Family History Centre was there with news on the next Voices from the Dust event, now also billed as Ottawa's Rootstech, to be held on the afternoon of Saturday 20 June.
Heather Oakley had showed me a book published by Archives Lanark which was supported by a grant from Ottawa Branch. Published in the series Rural Schools it was on Drummond Township, 260 pages with lots of photos of pupils and teachers in the one-room schools which were the foundation of the education system until the 1960s. Others in the series are for Lanark, North Emsley, Ramsey and Packenham. There a good chance of finding a photo of relatives who attended a school in the area - Cliff Adams who briefly attended one of the schools told me he found six of nine cousins.
Gary Schroder mentioned that for the Quebec Family History Society forthcoming Roots 2015 conference, June 19-21 at McGill University groups will be coming in from nearly New England states.
BIFHSGO President Barbara Tose and publicity Director Mary-Lou Simac filled me in on the hugely successful Ulster day the society held while I was away. Not only did it demonstrate how popular one day events can be, something Toronto Branch of OGS have demonstrated in spades for years, but it also showed ways of coping with a capacity crowd at the Centrepointe facility.
Although I didn't get to attend any of keynoter Janice Nickerson's lectures we did chat briefly about the OGS 2016 conference being held in Toronto. Apparently they aim to put a premium on innovation in selecting presentation topics. It may be good for the environment but recycling, recycled presentations from previous OGS and other local events, are less likely to find a place on the program.
Sunday, 29 March 2015
Genealogy was in plentiful supply at the "Genealogy in the Sunshine" event organized by Peter Calver of Lost Cousins at Rocha Brava, Algarve, Portugal - 16-20 March 2015. Several people have asked about my experience saying they would consider going if offered again.
It goes without saying that when you have well-known knowledgeable speakers of the quality of Chris Paton and Else Churchill, who have both been BIFHSGO conference speakers, and John Hanson, the content will be first rate.
It was, and not just because of them. In fact my top pick from the speakers, perhaps because her material was new to me and presented in such an appealing manner, was British legal historian Rebecca Probert, author of Marriage Law for Genealogists: The Definitive Guide...what everyone tracing their family history needs to know about where, when, who and how their English and Welsh ancestors married. She spoke on Sex, Illegitimacy and Cohabitation; Divorced, Bigamist, Bereaved - interpreting you ancestors' second marriages; and the Life and Times of an Army Wife in the Peninsula War as well as giving a morning presentation on the topic of her marriage law book.
The major presentations took place in the afternoon, the mornings being reserved for introductory or specialist topics. However, on Monday morning there was a panel on the Genealogical Proof Standard. Else Churchill started off with an overview of the GPS and the additional material the Society of Genealogists have on their website. That was pretty factual. The discussion, which involved a lot of questions and interventions from the audience, was at a fairly basic level. There remains a lot of scepticism over "reasonably exhaustive", the overly prescriptive nature of citation and just when conflicts can be said to be resolved. One opinion was that the GPS was nothing more than common sense. There was some discussion of DNA evidence allowing me to point out how it is becoming increasingly accepted by the US profession, and required in some circumstances.
While I think the GPS can be improved upon after nearly 20 years, after all genealogy has come a long way in that time, still we should not be making the perfect the enemy of the good. I remain optimistic that one of these days, although perhaps not soon, the genealogical professionals will embrace a quantitative probabilistic approach.
The second (Tuesday) morning was dedicated to presentations by Debbie Kennett providing an introduction to genetic genealogy. It was a session I didn't attend, Debbie was a speakers at the last BIFHSGO conference. I did enjoy her more in-depth presentations on interpreting DNA results. Genetic genealogy continues rapid development and Debbie is right on top of these as well as being well tuned in to the genetic genealogy community internationally. The challenge with these presentations is providing enough basic material for the newbie and enough of what's new to satisfy the more advanced genetic genealogist.
There wasn't a dud presentation during the whole week - although I'll let others pass judgement on mine.
I wasn't the only Canadian on the program. Dr Donald Davis from BC gave an exceptional presentation comparing the 1841 English census with a small collection of the original householder schedules found in a county archive, and, together with his cousin Donna Fraser, spoke on their case study Finding Amelia.
Peter Calver also arranged a social program including an opening reception with wine, afternoon tea/coffee breaks each day, optional Safari Suppers on Tuesday and Thursday, and an optional closing dinner.
Was everything perfect? No, but it was good. The presentation rooms weren't ideal; WiFi was only occasionally, mostly not, available in my suite so I had to walk to reception for access. While that's something that could be fixed the parsimonious allocation of sunshine was not. Portugal is known as a cold (relative term) country with a hot sun. I have a sunburn that testifies to sunny days of sightseeing before the conference, and Algarve has lots of that to offer. The sun only reluctantly appeared during the conference, although did make enough of an appearance on the Friday morning to enable witnessing the partial eclipse of the sun.
The accommodation at Rocha Brava was perfectly satisfactory, we took advantage of a reasonably well equipped kitchen to save on meals out, international TV, and there were good electric heaters to take the chill off leaving us toasty-warm on the colder days.
I expect Peter will have more to report in his next Lost Cousins newsletter. Chris Paton has included interviews with Peter Calver and Else Churchill recorded at Genealogy in the Sunshine in a recent podcast. Comments from anyone else at the event welcome.
The OGS 2015 conference isn't yet underway but already the dates and location for OGS Conference 2016 are announced. The venue is the International Plaza Hotel, close to Toronto (otherwise known as Pearson, Mississauga or for the old timers Malton) airport at 655 Dixon Road. The dates June 3, 2016 – June 5, 2016.
It's a good conference facility, Toronto has lots of organizational talent to draw on and, even before the call for presentation proposals comes out, I'm hearing of good speakers planning to make proposals. I suggest you plan on being at there even if, like me, you don't have much in the way of Ontario ancestry.
Saturday, 28 March 2015
This is an entirely new-to-me organisation with another string to its bow being British Genealogy (Alexa rank 472,465) which the company describes as a forum leading the field in its technology and membership base.
The magazine cover story is a Genealogical Boot Camp for getting started researching military ancestors. Solid straightforward advice.
The lead "historic feature" is on Britain's Secret (WW2) Army: the Auxiliary Units and the Last Line of Defence. It's a useful description of a guerrilla-type organisation which I learnt a bit about when Time Team explored Shooters Hill in South London.
A Happening Now section includes news on military records, a what's on compilation and happenings from the Great War day-by-day 100 years ago.
The magazine, with about 28 pages of content, is free so it costs nothing but your time to check it out, and you'll certainly learn about the military resources of Forces War Records.
Friday, 27 March 2015
If you're not in Toronto it would seem you're plain out of luck, or perhaps living beyond the pale as far as that organization is concerned. Not even the opportunity to see the presentations being given online which is hardly costly or groundbreaking technology at this stage!
Now available from FamilySearch, sourced from The National Archives, Kew, Surrey. come 43,542,691 images, name indexed, the records from:
WO 363 (War Office: Soldiers' Documents, First World War "Burnt Documents") surviving records of service for non commissioned officers and other ranks who served in the 1914-1918 war and did not re-enlist prior to the outbreak of war in 1939 and
WO 364 (War Office: Documents from Pension Claims, First World War) service records of non-commissioned officers and other ranks who were discharged from the Army and claimed disability pensions for war service between 1914 and 1920 and did not re-enlist prior to the outbreak of the Second World War.
The FreeBMD Database was updated on Friday 20 March 2015 to contain 245,478,955 distinct records. That's an increase of 669,185 records since the February update. Years with major (more than 5,000) additions are: for births 1958, 1963-4, 1966. 1971, 1973-4; for marriages 1952, 1965-6, 1968, 1971-5; for deaths 1971-4.
Thursday, 26 March 2015
Sourced from the Local Studies & Archive Centre, Bexleyheath, come the following Church of England records, with image originals:
Deaths and Burials, 1813-1985, 49,848 records
Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1558-1812, 27,113 records
Births and Baptisms, 1813-1925, 67,801 records
Marriages and Banns, 1754-1935, 61,801 records
and also, from the municipal cemeteries of Bexleyheath, Erith and Sidcup:
Cemetery Registers, 1879-1985, 53,843 records
If you know anything about folk music and folklore you know the name Alan Lomax. An American, he recorded thousands of songs and interviews with folk artists from around the world. They're now online at http://research.culturalequity.org/home-audio.jsp including material from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
A reminder that the evening of Friday March 27 & all day Saturday 28 is the almost annual Gene-O-Rama organized by the Ottawa Branch of OGS.
This year the lead speaker is Janice Nickerson; details of the program and speakers are at http://ogsottawa.on.ca/gene-o-rama/
As usual there will be a marketplace with lots of goodies to purchase, displays by representatives of local non-profit heritage societies and a computer research room.
According to the Environment Canada forecast we should avoid the snowstorm that plagued the event last year so making your way to the Confederation Education Centre, 1645 Woodroffe Ave. Ottawa should be routine.