Saturday, 20 December 2014

1871 Worldwide British Army Index at Findmypast

Transcripts of records of over 200,000 officers and men of the Cavalry, Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Guards, Infantry and Colonial units serving in Britain and elsewhere in the British Empire are in the new Findmypast database 1871 Worldwide British Army Index - British Army Other Ranks & Locations

The information contained may include: Name; Service number; Rank or description; Regiment or unit and ; Location of regimental headquarters for those serving in the second quarter of 1871. You will not usually find age or service location at the time.

See the full description at

Ancestry Additions Include UK, Coal Mining Accidents and Deaths Index, 1700-1950

Three databases new to Ancestry and an update to the Surrey, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1945, are now available through Ancestry.

These "Web" databases are incorporated into Ancestry for convenient one-stop searching. The same information is available without an Ancestry subscription by going to the website references, which may be more up to date.

Web: UK, Coal Mining Accidents and Deaths Index, 1700-1950 has 102,978 records scraped from the The Coalmining History Resource Centre at which is "the UK's largest and most comprehensive website concerning the history of coalmining - including a searchable database of over 164,000 recorded accidents and deaths."

Web: United Kingdom, Women's Royal Air Force Index, 1918-1920 has 31,086 records derived from a The (UK) National Archives at

Web: Gloucestershire, England, Overseers Index, 1615-1888 contains 44,943 records from Gloucestershire Archives Genealogical Search. Gloucestershire County Council. at Check out the other Gloucestershire Archives databases at

Ancestry also updated the 14,507,979 record database Surrey, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1945, an addition for 4 million additional records since December 2013.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Top Baby Names

Scotland is first out of the gate with the top baby names for 2014. National Records of Scotland (NRS) announced Jack was the top boys’ name for a seventh consecutive year, and Emily rose from third to replace Sophie as the most popular girls’ name.  Read the announcement here.

Meanwhile Ontario is lagging. A media push, including an interview on the CBC Ottawa morning show does not mention they're announcing the list for 2013! If Scotland can do it why not Ontario?

One nice facility for looking at Ontario names is this interactive app released by Global News based on Ontario Government data to 2010.

Toronto Family History Centre Blog

Here's a shout-out to one of the genealogy blogs I'm subscribed to.  Almost every week Helen Billing puts out a blog/newsletter from the Toronto Family History Centre; she's smart enough to take an occasional week off over holiday periods.

Much of the content is not specific to Toronto. You'll find good coverage of developments in British resources, and beyond, as well as genealogical advice of all kinds.

Give it a look at

Coming in 2015?

Who Do You Think You Are Magazine blog has a list of 10 things in family history to look forward to in 2015. The top three are:

1) A potential change in legislation that would enable family historians to order digital copies of English and Welsh BMD certificates at a much lower price. Fingers crossed on this one – plus the wheels of government turn so slowly, who knows when family historians will see the benefit. Still, let’s hope, if it happens, that they set the price for a digital certificate at a sensible level.

Comment: Considering where this proposal sits, introduced as an amendment to legislation in the House of Lords, and the time it typically takes the British parliamentary system to adopt most non-urgent change, the chances of seeing any change implemented in 2015 are slim.

2) Irish Catholic parish registers coming online via the National Library of Ireland. Hopefully that will help me sort out my Caldwell family (that's them above!)

Comment:  As these will be page images of records, not indexed, for practical purposed you'll need a shrewd idea of where the event took place for these to be of benefit for most people.

3) The 1939 Register coming online. This will be a massive boon for those with 20th century brick walls.

Comment: Agreed. Considering there's no surviving 1931 census and the 1941 census was never taken this fills a big hole.

Read the complete WDYTYA Magazine list of  10 things in family history to look forward to in 2015

Thursday, 18 December 2014

A Small Sign of Progress at LAC

Sean Graham, frequent researcher at Library and Archives Canada and PhD candidate in history at the University of Ottawa, tweeted out this photo of a new carpet installed in the second floor south reading room at 395 Wellington.

Sad to reflect that expectations of the institution sank so low that new carpet is tweetworthy.

The room has been underused for years. Let's look forward to the space becoming more functional, not just storage for obscure open shelf reference materials as previously.

New and Updated Southern Hemisphere Commonwealth Records at Ancestry

Got relatives who went south? These records on Ancestry may be of interest.

There are now 5,157,166 records in the updated Australia Birth Index, 1788-1922 comprising incomplete records for:

New South Wales — 1788-1910
Northern Territory — 1870-1910
Queensland — 1829-1910, 1915-1919
South Australia — 1842-1922
Tasmania — 1803-1910
Victoria — 1836-1910
Western Australia — 1841-1905
The information available varies. Some early index records give the mother's maiden name, some later ones only the father's and give only a range of years in which the birth fell.

For New Zealand there's a new database with 9,537 records from Who's Who in New Zealand and the Western Pacific, 1908, 1925, 1938 linked to images of the publication. Many of those included are originally from the UK.

Eastern Cape, South Africa, Estate Files, 1962-1971 has 425,696 records new to Ancestry sourced from FamilySearch. You can browse the files year by year; there is no name index and they don't appear to be in alphabetical order.

Try BIFHSGO on Facebook and Twitter

Did you notice these symbols in the right hand column of the BIFHSGO web site? They are the icons for BIFHSGO's presence on social media sites Facebook and Twitter.
Go ahead and try clicking on an icon. It won't bite!

f for Facebook gets you to a page which has news items added most days. 308 people, perhaps more now, likely genealogist friends, have clicked that they Like the site.

The little bird is for Twitter, the 140 character social network. Since July 2011 when BIFHSGO started on Twitter there have been 846 posts and 306 people follow it meaning that posts, mostly in association with monthly meetings and the annual conference, automatically appear in your Twitter feed.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Macleans on "Why are our national archives being locked from public view?"

An opinion piece by Anne Kingston in Macleans rehearses the familiar and sorry story at Library and Archives Canada. Few would argue with the article's view that Daniel Caron left the organization reputation shattered, its credibility in ruins. New management under Guy Berthiaume is working on restoration but can't do so alone.

Accepting recent recommendations from the Auditor General and sage advice from a Royal Society Expert Panel is encouraging. Even more so would be recognition from Minister of Canadian Heritage Shelly Glover that previous cuts went too far.

$80 million can be found for the Science and Technology Museum. $110 million is promised for the National Arts Centre. Both address structural deficiencies. The pressing deficiencies at aren't in the buildings but in the programs at LAC. A meaningful gesture toward restoring credibility in the organization's role in preserving and sharing Canada's documentary heritage would speak volumes. Not doing so would equally send a clear message about the Harper government.

Ancestry updates Canada, City and Area Directories, 1819-1906

There are now 8,299,563 indexed records in this predominately 19th century directory collection. Coverage reflects population.
In the West there's a single directory for Alberta, Calgary (1885), and a province wide directory for Saskatchewan (?) for 1888. The are 15 directories for Manitoba communities, mostly Winnipeg, and 25 for British Columbia with best coverage province-wide and for Victoria.
In Central Canada coverage is best: for Ontario for Toronto, Ottawa, London and Hamilton; in Quebec for Montreal and Quebec City.
Atlantic Canada has good coverage for Saint John (New Brunswick) and Halifax (Nova Scotia) with spotty coverage elsewhere. Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island are covered by six directories each.
Finally 13 are categorized as Canada and Multi-province which like the province wide counterparts are selective of high status individuals and businesses in their coverage.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

WDYTYA? Live: 16-18 April 2015

Thinking about a family history research trip to the UK in 2015. Consider timing it so you can take in the Who Do You Think You Are? Live event at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, 16-18 April.
The schedule of presentations organized by the Society of Genealogists is now posted with lots of names familiar to me scheduled to speak: Dave Annal, Gill Blanchard, Else Churchill, Jackie Depelle, Janet Few, Simon Fowler, Michael Gandy, Julie Goucher, Kirsty Gray, John Hanson, Celia Heritage, Sharon Hintze, Doreen Hopwood, Debbie Kennett, Rosemary Morgan, Eric Probert, Rebecca Probert, Alec Tritton, There will also be celebrities, stands from commercial and non-profit organizations to browse and an opportunity for one-on-one consultations with experts.
Check out the full details at

BIFHSGO Conference Call for Presentation Proposals

The 21st Annual BIFHSGO Family History Conference will take place September 18 - 20, 2015. I'm told it will most likely be at Library and Archives Canada again. Conference themes are:
Scotland - family history
Photographs in Genealogy
Technology for genealogy (i.e hardware, software, apps, websites, databases, social media and DNA analysis tools)
The call for speakers is open until January 31, 2015. Proposals for lectures, workshops, seminars and panel sessions are sought. Submission details are at