Friday, 29 April 2016

Registration now open for BIFHSGO conference 2016

Be part of BIFHSGO's Irish and DNA themed 22nd Annual Family History Conference, September 9 - 11, 2016, at Ben Franklin Place in Ottawa.

Hear presentations by headliners Kyle Betit and Maurice Gleeson.
Find out what Lucille Campey has been discovering as she's moved to investigate Irish immigration to Canada.
Take in pre-conference events.

Read all the details HERE 

Register HERE,

BIFHSGO members remember to LOGIN before completing registration in order to receive the Member's rate for the conference.

FamilySearch adds New Brunswick, Saint John...Burial Permits, 1889-1919

A browsable collection of 13,902 images for Saint John burials in 28 digital microfilm volumes by year.

The information on the permit varies and might include: date of death, name of deceased, age, color (sic), sex and marital state, name of husband if a married woman, residence, place of death, place of birth, occupation, name of father, birthplace of father, place of interment (need not be Saint John), cause of death, name of physician, name of undertaker.

Each volume begins with an alphabetical index by surname.


Earlier in the month at WDYTYA? Live in Birmingham I met Kelly Marsden, co-founder of Twile, at a display on the periphery of the Findmypast area. 
Twile had been in the news in February when it won two awards in the Innovator Showdown at Rootstech in Salt Lake City including People’s Choice. Findmypast made a strategic investment in Twile.

Some family historians enjoy the process of researching their family history and recording it.  It's all about the challenge of finding out about people in the family tree, Others get more of a thrill from sharing the information, unfortunately sometimes even with those who'd rather not know. Twile is for the sharers, presenting family history in a visual format appealing to generations who'd rather take advantage of flexibility of information on a screen rather than a piece of paper.

I was invited to try Twile for a free trial period, anyone can do so at

What's it about?
With Twile you can create a rich, visual timeline of your family history, made up of milestones and photos that tell the story of you, your ancestors and your descendants.
You can view a timeline for your whole family, starting from your earliest known ancestor right up until present day.
Or you can view a timeline for a single person on your family tree, to explore their life from the day they were born.
A three minute video at illustrates the basics.

There was a gentle learning curve in using Twile.
You can enter information person by person, event by event, or import a gedcom and add to it.
I found it sometimes easier to delete an item and re-enter rather than trying to edit.
It would be helpful to have a way to suppress all but the major life events so you can just see an overview of the BMDs in the family.
Two timelines are available, for WW1 and 2, to add to an individual or family timeline. While a good idea these are detailed and tend to swamp the family information. It would be good if one could select just the items of interest. This can presently be accomplished by adding custom events but requires re-entering the information.

Twile is filling a niche in the market for those who want to share their family story, or stories, in an attractive online timeline format.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

10 Cognitive Biases That Shape Our (Genealogical) Thinking

Bandwagon effect, availability heuristic and confirmation bias are just three of the traps I've seen in action in the genealogy community, including in my own genealogical research. They are covered in some books I've been reading: Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking by Richard Nisbett; Superforecasting: the Art and Science of Prediction by Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner, and Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

Not enough time to read those! Canadian librarian-blogger Stephen Abram, executive director of the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries, features a simple graphic which highlights some of the key messages into ten biases to which we all succumb.

Check it out at

DNA Special Interest Group meeting Saturday

This Saturday, April 30 the Ottawa DNA Special Interest Group will meet in Room 115, City of Ottawa Archives, 100 Tallwood Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, 9:30 am to noon
A presentation by Bob Mallett on how Y-DNA testing works, and how he used it in his One Name Study, will be followed by a round the table opportunity for members to share experiences, information and ideas and learn about the use of DNA evidence in exploring family history.
Attendees will be required to sign in and out at the reception desk on the ground floor.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Victoria Times Colonist archive now digitized up to 1950

The following is sourced from a Facebook post by Dave Obee.

Digitized issues of Daily Colonist now cover Depression, war years

Researchers interested in Victoria during the Depression and Second World War now will be able to search digitized back issues of the Daily Colonist from 1920 to 1950.

The historical British Colonist website — — was launched in 2008 with searchable images of the first 100,000 pages published by the British Colonist, the Daily British Colonist and the Daily Colonist from 1858 to 1910. It was extended to 1920 a couple of years ago.

The latest expansion means it will be much easier to do research about Victoria during the tough Depression years and the Second World War, said Dave Obee, editor-in-chief of the Times Colonist.

“This digitization work changes the way our history can be researched. It will be easier than ever before to find stories and advertisements in what was, for many years, the largest newspaper in the province,” Obee said.

“It also makes the back issues much more accessible. Until now, a person would have had to visit a library and use a microfilm reader to read these old issues.”

The Times Colonist is the oldest newspaper in Western Canada. In the past 157 years, it has published a massive storehouse of information about Victoria and Vancouver Island.

Lisa Goddard, head of digital scholarship for University of Victoria Libraries, says the 1941-1950 batch of newspapers includes 67,148 page images. The next batch, not yet online, will cover 1951-1960 and has 101,604 images.

“There are actually substantially more pages because, of course, the issues get bigger and bigger over time,” she said. “You can see the exponential growth of the issues over those decades.”

The first issues of the British Colonist had just four pages. “Now we’re getting into a mature newspaper with a large number of pages per issue,” Goddard said.

The site is complete for the 1940s, but not all issues from the 1930s are available yet. They will be added to the site when they become available.

The website is hosted by University of Victoria Libraries, which is the project’s primary sponsor. Other sponsors include the Times Colonist, the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, the Greater Victoria Public Library, the B.C. Electronic Library Network, the Libraries and Literacy branch of the Ministry of Education and the Legislative Library.

Distant cousins

You can tell when it's a slow news day. The media drag out stories like "Presidents Obama Bush are 10th cousins, once removed." That's according to research bu the New England Historic Genealogical Society reported in 2008.
To be fair, the newspaper item continues to state "While family trees such as these throw up interesting histories and links, genetically they are meaningless. While children carry half the genes of their father, cousins as far removed as Obama and Bush would have no more genetic link than someone they bumped into at random in the street."
The article Relatedness in the post-genomic era: is it still useful? based on a simulation study, by Doug Speed, shows less than 0.1% of possible 10th cousins would have any shared DNA.
Furthermore, with a NPE rate of 1 - 3% per generation, say 3%  when the biological father is not that recorded on paper records, about 1 in 3 of the 10th cousin paper trail links would be false.
Are those stories better than a blank space?

HSO April Meeting: Ottawa on Screen

In April the Historical Society of Ottawa meeting welcomes George A Shirriff on the topic Ottawa on Screen

The date is 29 April at 1pm. As usual, the location is the Routhier Community Centre, 172 Gigues Ave, Ottawa. Further information at Everyone welcome.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Explore Findmypast's crime, prisons and punishments records

Findmypast have a new short video by Abigail Rieley introducing the England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935 collection. These records from the (UK) National Archives has a name index which includes victims and others involved as well as criminals. You may find photos and personal details that are elusive for ancestors who stayed on the straight and narrow.

The records are from series:

Admiralty: registers of convicts in prison hulks (TNA Ref: ADM 6)
Central Criminal Court: after-trial calendars of prisoners (TNA Ref: CRIM 9)
Home Office: Convict Hulks, Convict Prisons and Criminal Lunatic Asylums: Quarterly Returns of Prisoners 1824-1876 (TNA Ref: HO 8)
Home Office: Criminal Entry Books 1782-1871 (TNA Ref: HO 13)
Home Office: criminal petitions Series 1 (TNA Ref: HO 17)
Home Office: criminal petitions Series 2 (TNA Ref: HO 18)
Home Office: Register of criminal petitions (TNA Ref: HO 19)
Home Office: Registers of Prisoners from National Prisons lodged in County Prisons 1847-1866 (TNA Ref: HO 23)
Home Office: Prison Registers and Statistical Returns 1838-1875 (TNA Ref: HO 24)
Home Office: Judges’ Reports on Criminals 1784-1830 (TNA Ref: HO 47)
Home Office: Newgate Prison Calendar 1782-1853 (TNA Ref: HO 77)
Home Office: Miscellaneous Criminal Books 1798-1831 (TNA Ref: HO 130)
Home Office: calendar of prisoners (TNA Ref: HO 140)
Home Office and Prison Commission: prison records (TNA Ref: PCOM 2)
Home Office and Prison Commission: Male Licences 1853-1887 (TNA Ref: PCOM 3)
Home Office: Old Captions and Transfer Papers 1843-1871 (TNA Ref: PCOM 5)
Metropolitan Police: Criminal Record Office: habitual criminals' registers and miscellaneous papers (TNA Ref: MEPO 6)
Treasury: Departmental Accounts: Convict Hulks 1802-1831 (TNA Ref: T 38/310-338)

FLAC mini book sale

This Wednesday, April 27, 2016
The Friends of Library and Archives Canada
9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
395 Wellington Street, Ottawa
Main Lobby
For more information: (613) 992-8304

via a Facebook post by Ed Kipp
Curiouslly there's no mention at the Friends website

Free Rockstar Genealogist Webinars

Kirsty Gray and Thomas MacEntee, two favourite genealogists if the Rockstar Genealogist survey is to be believed, are on the schedule for presentations in the Legacy Family Tree Webinar series.

This Wednesday, 27 April at 2 pm EDT in England and Wales - Rummaging in the Parish Chests Kirsty will cover how:
The parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials in England and Wales give many genealogical clues to help build a family tree. Kirsty Gray also highlights other documents kept by the parish, the diocese and the archdeaconry and the invaluable information which can be gleaned about the lives of our ancestors.
The following week, Wednesday 4 May also at 2 pm EDT, Thomas MacEntee will speak on Google Drive for Genealogists:
Learn how to use Google Drive - a free cloud computing application complete with spreadsheets, word processing and more - to your advantage while performing genealogy research. We’ll cover how to create new documents, import documents from your hard drive, and how to use the basic functions of each component.
Find out more and take advantage of required free registration for these, and one other presentation on Friday on the new book matching technology from MyHeritage, at

Monday, 25 April 2016

OGS Conference 2016

It's now a little over a month to the start of the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2016.
I'm impressed with the speakers, that's my main motivation for going. Check the full scope of the conference here. if you're not done so or have been holding back.

I'm also impressed with the promotion. For example, this "in their own words" video.

Ottawa Public Library genealogy events in May

FamilySearch Basics, Tuesday May 3, 2016 - 7:00pm
Beaverbrook Branch
Learn about the tools and resources available for free to assist you in researching and preserving your family history through FamilySearch.
Further information and registration here.

Using Ancestry Library, Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - 2:00pm
Greenboro Branch
Discover the content and use of this popular genealogy database and learn some tips and tricks in this hands-on demonstration. Ancestry Library is free to use in all library branches.
Further information and registration here.

Starting a Genealogy Research Project, Monday, May 30, 2016 - 6:30pm
Carlingwood Branch
When we first start delving into our family tree research we often do it in a haphazard way. This presentation by genealogist Ken McKinlay will discuss tips and tricks to approach your genealogy research in a methodical manner. It will touch upon using software or web sites to record information, ways of categorizing the information found, and alternate resources to fill in some of the blanks in our research. Using real world examples, Ken will walk through possible challenges and ways to overcome them.
Further information and registration here.

In addition OPL is offering drop-in sessions during May at:
Main Branch: Wednesday, May 18, 2016: 2:00pm to 4:00pm in the Ottawa Room
Cumberland Branch: Wednesday, May 25, 2016: 2:45pm  to 4:45pm in the Computer Lab
No registration required.