Saturday, 31 January 2015

Genealogy Without Borders - my lecture given in Canada May 2014

In May 2014 I was kindly invited to Ontario to speak at the Niagara branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society's conference, entitled Genealogy Without Borders. In addition to giving talks at the main conference I was also invited to give the keynote Houston Lecture on the Friday evening before it got under way.

On many occasions when giving talks I will record what I say using the Evernote programme on my iPad, simply so that I can review it in due course and make sure that I didn't make too many errors when delivering it! Over the last 2 days I've been spending a bit of time looking into how to use the Audacity and SoundCloud programmes, with the possibility in due course of perhaps creating some podcasts for this blog. As part of this, I have tidied up the recording I made in Niagara of my talk, which was the most enjoyable that I think I've ever given, as I had a fair bit of a laugh with the audience (always a good crowd in Ontario - looking forward to returning again in September!), but also because this was a bit of a one-off, to tie in with the theme of the conference. The lecture is now presented here, with the permission of the Niagara branch of the OGS ( - I've reduced it by about 5 minutes for various reasons (it's now about 50 mins), but I hope you enjoy it!

Attentive crowd!

Sruth na Maoile (Straits of Moyle)

Genealogy Without Borders

(With thanks to Steve Fulton at the OGS Niagara branch)


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Friday, 30 January 2015

Philadelphia Welsh Society records and Iceland censuses on Ancestry

Ancestry has a few new resources of interest. If some of family were Welsh migrants to Philadelphia, then the following collection may be of interest:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Welsh Society of Philadelphia Charity to Immigrants, 1798-1883
Source: The Welsh Society of Philadelphia Records, 1798–1978. Collection 1186. Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania.

Many early settlers in and around Philadelphia were Welsh. The Welsh Society of Philadelphia met for the first time in 1798 with the goal of providing “for the relief of such emigrants as arrive in this country from Wales.”

This collection contains records from the Welsh Society of Philadelphia, including list of immigrants who received charity, cemetery registers, emigrant registers, receipts, minutes, attendance records, and membership lists.

Records vary, but you might find names, dates, birthplaces, places of origin, arrival dates, arrival vessels, age at burial, date and place of burials, and other details.

Also newly available are third party web interfaces for the 1870, 1880 and 1890 censuses of Iceland.

Web: Iceland Census, 1870

Web: Iceland Census, 1880

Web: Iceland Census, 1890

The original data is held on the website of the National Archives of Iceland (


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Voices from the Past recordings on Ulster Historical Foundation site

From the Ulster Historical Foundation (

Voices from the Past Lecture Series

Guild members can check out our latest additions to the Members’ Area as we have started to digitise audio recordings from some of our past conferences. Our ‘Voices from the past’ lecture series should prove to be a great resource for those interested in genealogy and history.

Some of these speakers unfortunately are no longer with us and thus the recordings are a rare opportunity to enjoy some very distinguished academics and archivists giving advice on using historical sources in Ireland. This week’s additions include:

  • Valuation records: A valuable resource for Genealogists by Trevor Parkhill
  • New Light at the Cape of Good Hope by Prof. Leslie McCracken
  • Family Research in the Registry of Deeds by Dr Katharine Brown
  • Sources in PRONI relating to education by Dr Roger Strong

All these recordings are available in the members area of our website, with Dr Katherine Brown's lecture on Family Research in the Registry of Deeds available on our homepage.

The society has also announced that its January Sale has been extended, offering 50% off all birth, death and marriage records until February 9th 2015.

(With thanks to the UHF)


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FindmyPast adds Essex, Warwickshire and Tasmania records

FindmyPast ( has added the following:

Over 600,000 parish records from Essex
Over 845,000 parish records from Warwickshire
Over 425,000 births, marriages and deaths from Tasmania, Australia

Further details at


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Ancestry DNA kit - first glimpse

Yesterday I announced that AncestryDNA, Ancestry's autosomal DNA testing kit, is now available in the UK and Ireland - see

Today my kit arrived in the post - I will let you know how I get on!

(With thanks to Ancestry)


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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Forthcoming events at the National Archives (Kew)

Forthcoming events at the National Archives at Kew:

Vanishing for the Vote: diverse suffragettes boycott the 1911 census FREE
Thursday 29 January 2015 18:00-19:00

The published word: making the most of electronic publications for your research FREE
Tuesday 3 February 2015 14:00-15:00

Using published sources for First World War family history research FREE
Thursday 5 February 2015 14:00-15:00

Further details at


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National Records of Scotland estates review and future direction of travel

I've had some fairly major news today from Anne Slater, Head of Public Services, at the National Records of Scotland (, following up on my posts of November 14th 2014 about the current Estates Review being undertaken by the body (see and It concerns the strategic direction of the future for the NRS, and how it intends to develop over the next few years, and I'm grateful to Anne for permission to share the news - the easiest way to do so is to simply quote the relevant section from her email:

"Hi Chris,

I hope you are well and things are good with you. Picking up on last year’s conversations about NRS public services, on site record availability and our on-going NRS Estates Review I thought you would be interested to hear about our progress. I am always keen to explore ways in which we can improve our current services however the Estates Review offers the potential to offer significant benefits to our customers and we have selected a preferred option as our future Estates Strategy.

"In line with the requirement of all Government bodies and departments to ensure our estates portfolio remains fit for purpose and cost-effective we embarked on our Estates Review last year. We recognise the important role we have as the guardians of some of Scotland’s most treasured possessions and information and are committed to making sure that we do that job well at the same time as improving our services to customers.

"Our long-term aspiration is to co-locate the majority of our staff in a fit-for-purpose facility in Edinburgh, and to expand and improve our archive and public facilities at Thomas Thomson House in the west of the city. Although there are no immediate plans for NRS to move out of General Register House or New Register House, these buildings do not feature in our core estate over the long-term. This intention remains subject to a number of challenges and constraints, not least funding, and at this stage this is our preferred direction of travel over the long-term, not a hard and fast commitment.

"However as the realisation of this strategy will take a number of years and remains dependent on funding, we have also agreed a short term plan to address our two immediate priorities – to improve archive storage (for all records), and to build a more cohesive, collaborative organisation. These plans include extending the current archive facility at Thomas Thomson House, with digitisation facilities and public search rooms to provide better customer access to physical records, securing modern office accommodation for our staff in the same area, and re-locating the West Register House archive to Thomas Thomson House.

"Over the next few months we will develop an implementation plan that will allow us to make these changes whilst meeting our existing commitments. A component of the implementation plan will be engagement with our customers who use our services to develop a plan in line with their needs.

"I hope this is helpful and please let me know if you have any questions.

"Kind regards, Anne"

Following the above, I contacted Anne to ask for a possible timescale on this. I have been advised that the first phase of the strategy is envisaged to perhaps take up to five or six years to implement. In terms of a purpose built facility - if it indeed happens - this is still a long way off, but what the above is stating is that it is the preferred direction of travel in the long run to aim for this.

COMMENT: I have previously stated my thoughts concerning the present system offered at the National Records of Scotland in comparison to the services provided by the equivalent repositories in Belfast and London (see, which on many (though not all) fronts, are considerably further ahead. I've always held the view that New Register House and General Register House are merely bricks and mortar, and that what is actually important is whether or not I can access the documents I need to see, within reasonable constraints (for example, conservation considerations). A purpose built facility with onsite storage would certainly be in the interests of all, and whilst it is disappointing to note that such a development is perhaps at least a decade away from being considered, it is at least now on the radar in terms of direction of travel. The fact that a shorter term interim step in making better use of Thomas Thomson House is to be implemented is certainly to be welcomed. This is still five or six years away, and certain issues concerning the use of the facility still remain, however, I have been heartened to see efforts being made recently to address some of these, though there is clearly much still to be done.

(With thanks to Anne Slater)


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New version of Canadian Directories database released by LAC

Library and Archives Canada has released a new version of its Canadian Directories database at The site contains directories for the Ontario cities of Hamilton, Kingston and London and for the counties of Southwestern Ontario.

For more on the announcement, visit the archive's dedicated blog at


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Ancestry's US headquarters to move

The US headquarters of Ancestry ( will be relocated to a new $35 million purpose built facility at Lehi, Utah.

Thomas MacEntee has the full story at

(With thanks to Thomas via Facebook)


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Ancestry launches AncestryDNA service in the UK and Ireland

Fairly major news from Ancestry ( in the UK:


Revolutionary DNA test utilises advanced science to pinpoint genetic ethnicity and help people discover family origins
  • AncestryDNA test examines a person’s entire genome at over 700,000 different genetic locations
  • Service will help people discover and connect with new relatives – linking their DNA results to a network of over 15 billion records and 60 million family trees
  • New technology targets more relevant and recent family history

AncestryDNA, the market-leading genetic family history DNA testing service, has launched in the UK and Ireland today – revolutionising the way that people can discover more about themselves and their family history and also connect with relatives they previously didn’t know existed.

AncestryDNA is offered by a subsidiary of Ancestry – the world’s largest online family history resource – and uses advanced DNA technology to reveal genetic ethnicity and uncover new family connections with other people who have taken the test. When combined with Ancestry’s existing database of over 15 billion records and 60 million family trees, this creates the ultimate family history resource.

Following its US release in 2012 AncestryDNA now has a database with DNA samples from 700,000 people who have discovered fascinating and sometimes surprising information about their own heritage. This international database is of huge benefit to UK and Irish users and will become even more so as it grows with the addition of DNA from the UK and Ireland. The database is expected to grow even further when AncestryDNA launches in other international countries later in 2015.

The AncestryDNA test uses microarray-based autosomal DNA testing, which surveys a person’s entire genome at over 700,000 locations via a simple saliva sample. Analysis of the DNA data provides a prediction of the locations of ancestors from 26 separate world-wide populations including Great Britain and Ireland, Europe, Scandinavia, Asia and South and North Africa.

In contrast to Y-chromosome or mitochondrial DNA tests, which only test one line of your family and generally provide information about ancestry several thousand years ago, the AncestryDNA autosomal test targets the last few hundred or thousand years. This enables people to learn more about their more immediate family history.

AncestryDNA can also help people identify relationships with unknown relatives through a list of possible DNA member matches. These results are a great starting point for additional research, collaboration, or to help people expand their family trees.

Ancestry subscribers in the UK and Ireland will also have the opportunity to use new online interface tools to link their DNA results with their existing family trees and research. With millions of family trees online at Ancestry, more people than ever before will now be able to connect with new relatives and share their results.

Catherine Ball, Vice President, Genomics and Bioinformatics at Ancestry, comments: “While family history research is most often focused on discovering more about the past, the AncestryDNA test uses the best modern technology to help users find out more than ever before about who they are and where they came from. When used in conjunction with existing Ancestry services, it also provides an exciting opportunity to discover and connect with new relatives – in fact the vast majority of customers from the UK and Ireland can expect to connect with 3rd or 4th cousins in the US immediately. As more customers from across the globe are added to the network, it will provide an exciting opportunity to connect some of the major migrations from the UK and Ireland.”

Dan Jones, General Manager International at Ancestry comments: “AncestryDNA provides people with a unique and engaging experience that helps them make amazing discoveries about their family history. The product has been a great success since it launched in the US and I am excited that it is now available in the UK and Ireland and in time will be offered in other International markets.”

Costing £99, plus shipping, AncestryDNA kits are dispatched within six days of an order, with the test results taking from 6-8 weeks to be delivered. Tests are available for purchase at

COMMENT: Ancestry are kindly sending me a kit so that I can work through the experience of an autosomal DNA test, which I will blog about in due course. I'm looking forward to this as I have had a few requests from known cousins in recent months to take such a test - though obviously the key advanatage will be in searching for unknown cousins! (I have previously been tested for Y-DNA through FamilyTreeDNA, and mitochondrial DNA through the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation).

In the meantime, Debbie Kennett, a member of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, and Honorary Research Associate attached to the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London, has posted her initial thoughts on the new test (which she has previously undergone when made available in the United States) at

(With thanks to Bryony Partridge at Ancestry)

UPDATE: 30 Jan - see


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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Romany & Traveller Family History Society to attend WDYTYA Live

From Who Do You Think You Are Live (

Welcome to the Romany & Traveller Family History Society!
We are excited to announce that the Romany & Traveller Family History Society (RTFHS) are joining us for the first time! Is there a story in your family that one of your ancestors was a Romany Gypsy? Or have you come across people in your own research that look as though they may led a travelling lifestyle? Come along and visit the RTFHS and find out more!

The show will be taking place at the Birmingham NEC from April 16th-18th. Further details are available via the website.


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British Library's National Newspaper Building formally opened

The British Library's new newspaper facility at Boston Spa, Yorkshire, was formally opened last Friday 23rd January, the end of a long process to relocate the newspaper facility previously based at Colindale in North London, at a cost of £33 million.

The full press release is available at

(With thanks to @evergreen_anc on Twitter)


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Historic Environment Scotland Board Announced

From Historic Scotland and RCAMHS:

Historic Environment Scotland Board Announced

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop has announced the first Chair and board members of Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

Jane Ryder OBE, former Chief Executive of the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator and Chair of Arts & Business Scotland, will become the first chair of the HES board. She has been appointed for four years and will be joined by nine board members.

• Dr Janet Brennan is Chair of the Scottish Castles Association, conservationist and author.
• Alan Clarke has over 40 years’ experience in tourism, leisure and marketing and retired in September 2014 as CEO of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.
• Trudi Craggs is qualified as a solicitor in Scotland and is a partner in CMS Cameron McKenna LLP.
• Professor David Gaimster is Director of The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow.
• Andrew Holmes qualified as a civil engineer and has worked in a variety of public sector posts dealing with planning, technical and property issues, retiring as Director of City Development for Edinburgh City Council in 2008.
• Dr Coinneach Maclean trained as an archaeologist and was Deputy Chief Executive of the National Trust for Scotland.
• Dr Fiona McLean is Vice Chair of the Board of Governors for the University of the Highlands and Islands.
• Dr Paul Stollard is an architect who has specialised in the fire safety of buildings for over 30 years. He has taught architectural design and history in a number of universities.
• Dr Ken Thomson took up his role as Principal of Forth Valley College in August 2013 following six years as Depute Principal.

Ms Hyslop said: “Jane brings with her immense experience in setting up a new body from her time with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator and in-depth knowledge of Scotland’s museum and historical assets. The new board contains the breadth and strength of the skills and knowledge required to make the most of Scotland’s rich heritage.

“The appointment of the Board is a major milestone in the creation of the new public body to lead on the delivery of Our Place in Time, Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment.

“As well as delivering on our commitment to public service reform by creating a single public body for Scotland’s historic environment, I am pleased that for the first time all of the work carried out by the bodies will be set within a single strategic framework.

“I have been really impressed by the efforts of the staff in both organisations in getting us to this point in the journey, and I very much look forward to working with Jane and the new board to take forward this exciting and ambitious agenda.”

The new Chair, Jane Ryder, said: “It is a huge privilege to be the first chair of Historic Environment Scotland. The opportunities identified by Our Place in Time and its shared vision, the expectations placed on HES and the skill and enthusiasm of the staff who will come together to form that body all add up to an exciting time for the historic environment.

“I look forward to working with my fellow board members and the excellent staff of the two existing bodies to make the ambitious vision set out in Our Place in Time a reality.”

The new Board will start its work on 1st April and be given all its powers on 1st October 2015. Full details about the appointments can be found on the Scottish Government website at


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The Nation/Live exhibition at Duff House in Banff

From Historic Scotland (

Explore ‘The Nation//Live’ at Duff House
New exhibition opens at Duff House

An exhibition which explores a number of pivotal moments in Scotland’s history is to open at Duff House in Banff.

The Nation//Live is a pioneering project by the National Galleries of Scotland which saw community groups in five regions across the country paired with a lead artist to explore a particular theme within the context of Scotland’s past.

Historical events, spanning themes including work, roots, union, faith and civil war, were tackled by locals of all ages from Skye, Inverness, Dumfries, Clydebank and across the central belt. Working closely with professional artists and drawing inspiration from historic works of art held in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery’s collection, community groups and individuals were challenged to create their own contemporary interpretation of some of these key moments, incorporating their own personal memories and stories into their final pieces.

The resulting artworks created will be on display alongside reproductions of works of art from the national art collection which inspired these modern interpretations. These new artworks offer an insight into how contemporary Scots connect with Scottish history.

The two-year-long arts project also saw the involvement of several schools across the different regions. Third and fourth year pupils at Keith Grammar School in Moray, collaborated with Knockando Woollmill to create their own woollen panels, which were then joined together to illustrate their local environment and surroundings. Whilst fourth year pupils at Inverness’ Millburn Academy crafted aluminium medals that represented their own personal identity.

The Nation//Live also spans a number of multi-media platforms, including works that make use of video, music, performance and sculpture.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is a film, created by renowned Scottish filmmaker Daniel Warren, that captures all five elements of the collaboration and features all the community groups involved.

This is the first time that the exhibition has been shown outside of Edinburgh, having previously been on show at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. It is being brought to Duff House by The National Galleries of Scotland in partnership with Historic Scotland.
Commenting on the exhibition at Duff House, Lorna Ewan, Head of Head of Visitor Experience, Content and Learning for Historic Scotland, who operate the House said: “We’re pleased to welcome this flagship exhibition to Duff House which marks the first in a series of an exciting programme of events at the House over the year ahead.

“The Nation//Live is a truly unique project that explores history with a modern twist and we hope that our visitors will enjoy the pairing of traditional artworks with those created through the project by communities across Scotland.”

Schools can access Duff House and its collections through Historic Scotland’s free education visits scheme. Visiting the exhibition will enable students to gain an insight into Scotland’s past and how it is viewed today through these updated art works, inspired by the national art collection.

Senior Outreach Officer for the National Galleries of Scotland, Robin Baillie, added: “The Nation//Live exhibition is the result of a two-year-long project, the results of which showcase a contemporary view on Scotland’s past.

“Following a successful opening in Edinburgh, it’s a great opportunity to share these unique interpretations in the striking surrounds of Duff House, which we hope are enjoyed by visitors to the House.”

The exhibition, which opens to the public on Thursday 29th January, will run until Sunday 15th March 2015 and is included within the admission price to the house.

(With thanks to Grant Thomson)


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More UnlockthePast books available from Canada's Global Genealogy

Several more publications from Australian based Unlock the Past ( are now available from Global Genealogy in Canada (

The following titles are available:

Discover English Parish Registers
By Paul Milner
15.95 (C$)

Writing and Publishing Your Family History
By Lesle Berry
14.95 (C$)

Locating Your German Ancestor's Place of Origin
By Eric Kopittke
15.95 (C$)

ScotlandsPeople: The Place to Launch Your Scottish Research
By Rosemary Kopittke
15.95 (C$)

Don't forget that several of my own Unlock the Past publications are also available from the company:

Discover Scottish Church Records
19.95 (C$)

British and Irish Newspapers
18.95 (C$)

Discover Scottish Civil Registration Records
15.95 (C$)

Discover Scottish Land Records
19.95 (C$)

Several Unlock the Past titles are also available in England from My History, with the full range available from Gould Genealogy in Australia at

Ebook editions are also available from


For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Genealogist adds more war memorial photographs

The Genealogist ( has further extended its War Memorials photos database, bringing the total to over 179,000. From the site:

"We have added another 40,000 records to our War Memorials, which is the largest name searchable collection of War Memorial photographs. This brings the total to over 179,000 and our collection is quickly growing to offer more coverage. With records ranging from soldiers lost in the Boer War in 1901 to more modern day conflicts such as in Northern Ireland, there are numerous records to access in our War Memorial collection."


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New Royal Commission secretary for Wales

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales ( has announced that its new Secretary (Chief Executive) will be Christopher Catling, MA, FSA. He will take up his post on March 2nd 2015.

For the full announcement visit


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Imperial War Museum anti-cuts petition

I've been asked to flag up a petition to Urgently reverse current and future cuts to the UK Imperial War Museum's annual operating grant in aid so that it can maintain services and preserve its standing as an international centre for study, research and education. No problem.

Here's the full blurb:

One hundred years after the outbreak of the First World War, the Imperial War Museum is under threat.

The Museum is facing an annual deficit of £4m because of cuts in government funding.

It has drawn up proposals to:

• close its unique library and dispose of the majority of its collection
• cut important education services
• cut 60-80 jobs
• close the widely emulated ‘Explore History’ facility in London.

The Museum’s library gives ordinary people access to research materials on all aspects of British and Commonwealth involvement in conflict since 1914.

Prospect trade union believes the world's leading authority on conflict will be irreparably damaged by the £4m deficit.

It has launched this petition to help ensure that the Imperial War Museum continues to provide for, and encourage, the study and understanding of the history of modern war and ‘wartime experience'.

Please show your support by signing today.

Imperial War Museum Library

The Imperial War Museum Library is a collecting department in its own right and plays a key role in helping IWM staff do their jobs - curating exhibitions, helping to identify and understand artefacts and furthering their own knowledge.

IWM aspires to be a highly-respected authority on its subject matter, but this will be impossible without a library.

Once the Library and its professional staff are gone, the damage will be done.

It will be impossible to replace this unique collection of primary and secondary printed materials and the dedicated people who care for them and make them available to the public - remotely or in person.

The Library acquired its first item in April 1917 - a programme for a 'Dick Whittington' pantomime staged by the 85th Field Ambulance in Salonika - and has been a vital part of the Museum ever since.

The Research Room

The Research Room, available to all for more in-depth research, will continue to operate but at a reduced level, and without access to library materials.

These materials are vital for providing context to personal papers and interviews and are the most commonly used items in the Research Room.


IWM attracted 433,000 learners in 2013-14 and 256,000 children took part in its on and off-site education programmes.

School educational visits to the paying branches at Duxford, HMS Belfast and Churchill War Rooms, with on-site teaching sessions led by museum and education professionals, are under threat.

The Museum is justifying the cuts at these original historic sites because of changes to the national curriculum and their ‘narrower exhibition focus’.

Formal education bookings at Duxford are steady and IWM London is already full to capacity.

‘Explore History’ attracted 55,000 visitors in 2013. It is a popular resource open to all, seven days a week, allowing the public to explore IWM’s collections and find out about objects or subjects not on display.

Westminster government funding

IWM was founded in 1917 as a place of study and memorial. Its London museum was refurbished at a cost of £40m and re-opened in July 2014. Demand for its services has never been higher.

IWM is successful in generating its own revenue - less than 50 per cent of its funding comes from the Westminster government, but that income is vital to the organisation's future.

IWM has faced funding cuts over several years but has not yet suffered the mass redundancies and reorganisations that have occurred in other national museums and galleries.

But the cuts announced in November 2014 will put the Museum’s educational and research functions in danger and experienced professional staff will be forced to leave.

Prospect fears that this is only the start and that further damaging cuts are likely unless there is widespread public support to maintain adequate levels of funding.

Please sign our petition and consider making a donation to IWM here: highlighting that your donation is a response to Prospect's petition.

The petition is available to sign at

(With thanks to @Save_IWMLibrary)


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FindmyPast, Scottish census sources, and Moby Dick

In a separate post I have just announced FindmyPast's new site navigation beta layout - see

As in now traditional in posts these days where I take a look at FindmyPast ( as a platform, it's time once again to raise the source citation issue with its Scottish censuses. I first flagged this up last April - eight months ago - to point out that the company had given nonsensical source information for Scottish census transcriptions (see In fact, this meaningless version of the sources information had been online for much longer on the US version of the site, but was integrated into the UK platform when all the platforms converged. Prior to this, FindmyPast's UK site had all the right info included, albeit with some wrongly labelled terminology (pieces, folios etc).

The source citation given on the new version of FindmyPast used the English based National Archives' terminology, in the form of RG, piece and folio numbers, which the repository uses for its General Register Office census holdings for England and Wales. The thing is, TNA does not hold the Scottish censuses, and this is not how the National Records of Scotland cites its holdings. After many weeks of kicking up about this, FindmyPast finally announced it was to be looked at (see and

Success! Huzzah!!!

Well, no, not really...

I thought they had tackled it, as I noticed in some entries recently a removal of the RG numbers - but instead, there was no relevant source information at all for the Scottish records they hold. Here is an example:

That's a lot of dashes, but it does tell us that the record is held somewhere in the UK, so if you are looking for the original record, you can eliminate a good part of the planet before you get under way. Very helpful.

This week, Ancestry launched two collections on recent death index records for Scotland and Northern Ireland 1989-2013, and England and Wales 2006-2009. Its sources were quoted as, err "Various Sources". Genealogists kicked up, and two days later, they changed the site to show that the source was "GreyPower Deceased Data. compiled by Wilmington Millennium, West Yorkshire." Is that detailed enough? For most genies, probably not, as it notes the compiler, but not the original sources from where the entries were compiled. But it was a hell of a lot more than was noted two days before!

By contrast, eight months on from first flagging this up, it seems that FindmyPast just does not understand or care why these census records are not fit for purpose. There has been a lot of discussion online this week about citing sources, and why they are important - Karen Cummings has a good post on it at The bottom line is this - how can you trust any record when you have no idea where it came from?

Here is part of the equivalent entry for the above census record as presented on Ancestry (

I've highlighted the source information given in red boxes. A world of difference, an archivist or genealogist has clearly been involved, and it is absolutely fit for purpose (as are the equivalent records on, where the original GROS images can also be viewed).

As I stated, I thought FindmyPast had at least removed the RG numbers. However, a search in the 1891 census has just found the following. Note what it's in the red box...

Here's the description of RG12 on the National Archives catalogue (

General Register Office: 1891 Census Returns

Enumerators' schedules of returns made by heads of households, which include the names, age, sex, occupation and parish and county of birth of individual members of the population of England, Wales and the Channel Islands; included in this series are returns from ships of the Royal Navy at sea and in ports abroad.

So, not Scotland.

This is my final post on the matter, as I'm not going to keep on hunting for a solution from FindmyPast any more - I have no intention of becoming Captain Ahab in search of his whale. But until it is sorted, FindmyPast will certainly not be the site that I recommend to folk doing Scottish based census research. On this site, it just isn't worth recommending...


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FindmyPast new beta navigation layout

FindmyPast ( has announced a new Beta search tool on its site. The full announcement is at The beta search tool for the UK collections is accessible via From what I can see, this is merely a new way to navigate between various collections and regions, rather than any new form of search interface, so it is still reliant on filters and so on.

The company states that "We want to make it easier for you to find your family. Following feedback from our users and in line with our development plans, we’ve redesigned the search pages to make them even easier to navigate. Don’t worry, we haven’t changed any of the pages, just improved the existing search forms and results pages." 

The feedback they refer to follows what was probably one of the biggest PR disasters I've witnessed over the last few years from an online records vendor, when the company launched a new version of its site and then appeared to stick its head in the sand when its users complained that many regularly used functions were now missing or simply did not work at all. Since then, there has been a lot of rowing back to improve what appeared to a site that had been launched far too hastily. The fact that this new interface has been launched in beta mode seems to show evidence of lessons being learned, and kudos to them for that.


For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at

Kindertransport records on FindmyPast

From FindmyPast (

“Kindertransport” records of Jewish child refugees to Britain now online for the first time for Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January

Digitised records from Findmypast tell the story of young Jewish children, who sought refuge in Britain at the outbreak of the Second World War

Lists of refugees, British government correspondence and official reports offer incredible insights into the experiences of these children in Britain

Records reveal what they ate, the clothes they wore and the games they played

London, UK, 27 January 2015 – Leading family history website,, has today on Holocaust Memorial Day released over 1,500 passenger list records and 41 volumes from The National Archives relating to the Kindertransport refugee programme during the Second World War. These fully searchable scanned documents are a digital facsimile of the files kept by central government to record the details of the thousands of young Jewish refugees, sent to Britain to escape Nazi persecution.

Kindertransport was the name given to a series of informal rescue efforts by various groups and individuals that successfully evacuated around 10,000 children to Great Britain between 1938 and 1940. Following the events of Kristallnacht on the night of 9/10 November 1938, where Jewish properties and businesses in Germany were destroyed, a delegation of British Jewish and Quaker leaders appealed in person to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Neville Chamberlain, requesting that the British government permit the temporary admission of unaccompanied Jewish children.

The first Kinder (the German word for children) arrived in Harwich by boat on 2 Dec 1938. They were 200 children from a Jewish orphanage in Berlin destroyed on Kristallnacht. Most children travelled by train from Berlin, Vienna or Prague. Jewish organisations inside the German Reich selected children and planned the transport on the German side – orphans and children of those in concentration camps were prioritised.

These children were placed in British foster homes, hostels, schools and farms. Often they were the only members of their families who survived the Holocaust. A number of older Kinder went on to join the British Army and fight against Germany later in the war.


The Kindertransport records are mainly passenger lists telling you the name of the child, their birth date and place, the date they departed Germany, name of the ship they travelled on and their arrival port in the UK. You can search by place of birth – these include Austria, Poland, Armenia, Switzerland, and even Ontario – but mainly towns in Germany.

There are 41 browsable documents in this collection including: minutes of the War Cabinet legislation committee and a copy of the Guardianship (Refugee Children) Bill draft; documents from the Education Department & Board of Education on the problems faced by gifted Jewish Kindertransport schoolchildren progressing to higher education facing financial problems and an enquiry from the German government on the well-being of German internees.

Arrival in the UK

Once in the UK, children without sponsors were housed in a summer camp in Dovercourt Bay in Essex and other facilities until foster families could be found. Detailed reports on the Dovercourt camp can be found within the collection and provide remarkable insights into what daily life was like for the children staying there.

COMMENT: The records are sourced from the National Archives in England (, but FindmyPast has only given vague references for the exact holdings in their 'about' section on the collection, simply noting on their site that they are held within the War Cabinet (CAB), Foreign Office (FO), Home Office (HO), Education (ED), Health (MH), and Security Service (KV) collections at the archive. However, a full reference does appear to be given for each return when you do a search. It would certainly help to see detailed list up front, so that those interested in the collection can see what is included, and what is not.

(With thanks to Alex Cox)


For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at

Monday, 26 January 2015

The Poor Had No Lawyers - Who Owns Scotland (And How They Got It)

Scottish land records are documents that I use regularly for genealogical purposes, but in Scotland just now, the system of land reform that currently sees some 432 folk owning half of the country's private land is something that is about to undergo some further and fairly major radical reform.

I am currently reading a book by Andy Wightman entitled The Poor Had No Lawyers - Who Owns Scotland (And How They Got It), which may be of interest to those of you not only fascinated with Scotland's land records, but with the systems that were created that generated them in the first place (for example, why the Registration and Proscriptions Acts were set up in 1617 which led to the creation of Registers of Sasines).

My review of the book is available on my other blog (entitled, err, Chris Paton's Blog!), at


For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at

Talks, conferences and exhibitions updates from PRONI

An update on forthcoming events in Belfast at PRONI (

Due to the demand, two additional Explore the Archives workshops have been added for 11th March and 22nd April - the first is now booked out, but there are spaces available on 22 April still. Here's the breakdown on the day:

Wednesday 22 April 2015 2.00pm - 4.30pm
Explore Archives Online, 2pm
Using the Documents (searching for, ordering and viewing original documents), 3pm
Using Ordnance Survey Maps, 4pm


YOUR FAMILY TREE - 10 week Talks Programme (11th Mar-13th May, 2015)

To help you start exploring your genealogy, PRONI will be running a ten-week lecture series, exploring some of the key archival sources you can use to trace your family history.

Starting on Wednesday 11th March 2015 at 1pm (and running every Wednesday until 13th May), the first talk will be based on ‘Getting Started’.

The program of talks looks like this:

11th March - Getting Started by Janet Hancock
18th March - Using Street Directories by Des McCabe
25th March - Church Records by Valerie Adams
1st April - World War One Ancestors by Ian Montgomery
8th April - Education Records by Valerie Adams
15th April - Board of Guardian Records by Janet Hancock
22nd April - Valuation Records by William McAfee
29th April - Landed Estate Records by Stephen Scarth
6th May - Courts, Prisons and Coroners records by Wesley Geddis
13th May - GRONI by Emma Elliott.

Contact PRONI to reserve a place.


Londonderry Papers Exhibition at Comber Library
When: 2nd February to 27th Feburary
Where: Comber Library

The exhibition will focus on the ‘Ark’ club set up by Edith, Lady Londonderry in 1915 and immortalised in the Dodo Terrace at her gardens at Mountstewart.

Members of the Ark club read like a roll call of the great and the good in British and Irish society at the time. Members were given a nickname, based on an animal or a mythical creature. So, Winston Churchill became ‘Winston the Warlock’ and Charles, Lord Londonderry, became ‘Charlie the Cheetah’

For further details please contact Comber Library on Tel. 028 9187 2610.


HALF-DAY CONFERENCE: ‘Seeking Refuge: Germany and Ireland in the 1930’s.’
When: 3 February – starting at 2pm
Where: PRONI

To mark Holocaust Memorial Day, PRONI will be hosting a half-day conference examining the impact of the rise of the Nazi regime on Jewish communities in Germany and Northern Ireland. Speakers will draw from papers held in PRONI and other archives, exploring stories of individuals and communities as well as considering the wider political context. In keeping with this year’s theme of ‘Keeping the Memory Alive’ the conference will consider how these stories can be uncovered and made accessible for future generations.

The contributors will include:

Dr Bethany Sinclair (DCAL)
One letter, one voice, multiple archives: the case of Leopold Pollak;

Linda McKenna (Down County Museum)
‘Finding Refuge: The Millisle Farm Story’ developing an on-line learning resource for schools;

Lorraine Bourke (PRONI)
Relations between the United Kingdom and Germany in the 1930s with a focus on the papers of Lord Londonderry.

Ulster Scots Connections - People, Place and Practice

PRONI is working in partnership with the Ministerial Advisory Group on Ulster Scots, the Ulster Scots Agency and the Ulster-Scots Community Network, to host a six week talks series commencing 20 May 2015. Lectures will alternate between PRONI and Corn Exchange at 1pm. Speakers will include: Cormac McSparron, Andrew Gault, Laura Spence, Frank Ferguson & Kathryn White. More details to follow shortly.

(With thanks to the PRONI Express newsletter)


For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at

PRONI launches conflict related records access guides

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland ( has launched a series of leaflets online, designed for those wishing to seek access to conflict related (i.e. Troubles related) records, such as court records and coroners inquests.

The guides are:

* Conflict-related Court Records
* Conflict-related Court Records - Making a Request Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
* Conflict-related Inquest Records
* Conflict-related Inquest Records - Making a Request Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

The guides, all available in downloadable PDF format, can be accessed at


For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at

Down and Out in Scotland - coming soon

I blogged last week that a revised second edition of my Irish Family History Resources Online guide book is now available from the good folk at Gould Genealogy - details on what it contains are available at

By way of an update, I have also now sent through the text for a new Scottish guide book, provisionally entitled Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis. A lot of books on Scottish genealogy (including many that I have written), have concentrated on records and sources that can be found to help trace back your family history. In this new guide, I've taken a slightly different approach to look into some of the situations where a family is often best recorded, when it faced its most perilous situations, and how those situations were documented by somebody close to hand with a quill and ink. These include periods of illness, poverty, debt, bankruptcy, rebellion, mental illness, criminal prosecutions, victimhood, and much more. I'll let you know more in due course about its availability!

In the meantime, for details of my other Unlock the Past published books on Scottish land records (and inheritance), Scottish church records, and Scottish civil registration records (both online and offline), as well as titles from other genealogists based around the world, please see Ebook versions are also available at, whilst details on how to obtain my titles in Canada and England are accessible at


For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at

Update to Ancestry's new UK death index collections

Ancestry has updated its pages for its recently released Scotland and Northern Ireland, Death Index, 1989-2013 and England and Wales, Death Index, 2007-2013 collections. See Via the update the records vendor has now confirmed on each page that the source data is from "GreyPower Deceased Data. compiled by Wilmington Millennium, West Yorkshire."

The site also states that the indexes "do not include the General Register Office (GRO) reference information" and that they contain "a small number of records for people in Jersey and Isle of Man".


For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at

Half term activities at Imperial War Museum Duxford

From the Imperial War Museum at Duxford (

February half term at IWM Duxford
Saturday 14 to Sunday 22 February 2015
How winning the war in the air and on the land led to Victory in Europe

Our February half term activities share stories from our collections about the people and the equipment that won the Second World War.

Daily, from 10.30am to 2.30pm, we’ll be marvelling at the impressive Avro Lancaster in our AirSpace exhibition and finding out about the bombing campaigns carried out by this type of aircraft. We’ll discover how the Lancaster works, the crew it carried and the role each played in a bombing raid. You’ll see, touch and try on items of uniform worn in the Lancaster bomber and find out about the experiences of the young men who flew in these remarkable aircraft. We’ll be hosting talks about our legendary Lancaster at 10.30am, 11.15am and 12pm. Hold and handle equipment and uniforms from the Lancaster bomber between 10.30am and 2.30pm.

From 10.30am to 2.30pm, we’ll be making aircraft-themed key-rings for school bags under the vast wings of the supersonic Concorde in AirSpace.

From 12.30pm to 3pm, the career of Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein – popularly known as ‘Monty’ - takes centre stage.

Montgomery was commissioned in September 1908 into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. In 1914 he went to France and saw action in the early months of the First World War. He won the Distinguished Service Order for leading a bayonet charge at Meteren, near Ypres, on 13 October 1914, but was wounded in the chest and knee later the same day. He returned to France in 1916 and held staff appointments for the remainder of the war.

Between the wars, Montgomery gained a reputation as an outstanding trainer of troops. In 1938 he briefly commanded the 8th Division in Palestine and in 1939, less than a week before the outbreak of the Second World War, he took over the 3rd Division, which was destined to go to France to fight the Germans.

One of the most famous military commanders of the Second World War, it was ‘Monty’ who accepted the surrender of all German forces in Holland, North West Germany and Denmark, leading to Victory in Europe.

Land Warfare is home to the Monty exhibition which features the three campaign caravans in which Field Marshal Montgomery lived, worked and planned campaigns. They are exactly as Monty left them at the end of the Second World War.

Monty’s map caravan was the centre of his tactical headquarters from June 1944 until May 1945. Here, he received daily reports of developments at the battle front from his team of Liaison Officers. Maps showing the daily progress of the armies under his command were hung on the walls of the caravan, which was also equipped with telephones so that he could speak directly to his generals. Monty was working on the large map in this trailer when the Germans came to his headquarters to surrender on 4 May 1945.

Of his bedroom caravan, Monty said: “I would turn out of this caravan for only two people – the King, George VI, and Winston Churchill.” It was his living quarters from May 1943 until the end of the war and is equipped with a bed, wardrobes, a washbasin and a bath. Monty’s bedroom caravan was captured by the British 8th Army from Italian Field Marshal Giovanni Messe in May 1943. It had also been used by Monty’s great adversary Field Marshal Rommel.

It was on the steps of his office caravan that Montgomery introduced himself to his staff when he arrived in North Africa to command the 8th Army on 13 August 1942. The portraits of the German Generals that can be seen in this vehicle adorned the walls during Monty’s campaigns.

In a later interview, Monty said: “I used to look at the photograph of the general I was up against at the moment and try to decide what sort of person he was and how he was likely to react to any moves I might make against him. In some curious way this helped me in the battle.”

In the foreground of these historic vehicles, we’ll follow Monty’s battle plans for El Alamain, the crossing of the Rhine and the surrender of the German forces and work out how his strategy was so successful.

At 12.30pm, our history interpreter, dressed as a member of General Montgomery’s 8th Army, will explore the battle of El Alamain. He’ll start by showing you Monty’s tank and caravans, looking at the markings, designation and purpose of each vehicle. We’ll then move to a recreated map table to discover how Montgomery planned out his military strategies and tactics. Using a map, flags and models, we’ll follow Monty’s plan and find out how it led to victory in Africa.

At 1.30pm, we’ll discover Monty’s strategy for the crossing of the Rhine and how his caravan-based tactical headquarters contributed to his success in this campaign.

At 3pm, we’ll see how Montgomery accepted the surrender of the German forces and find out how terms were carefully negotiated before the surrender was publicly announced, ending the Second World War in Europe.

February half term activities are included in general admission to the museum.

(With thanks to Esther Blaine at the IWM)


For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at

Friday, 23 January 2015

Ulster Historical Foundation launches records video tutorials & new FAQ guide

The Ulster Historical Foundation has launched a couple of video tutorials online at its Ancestry Ireland website at The aim of the tutorials is to help you become familiar with its online records databases - vital records for Antrim and Down, and a fair few other collections from across the island.

The society's William Roulston has also revised his online Genealogy FAQs research guide at

(With thanks to the UHF)


For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at

NIFHS to expand its research centre in Newtownabbey

The North of Ireland Family History Society ( has a dedicated research centre in Newtownabbey, not far from Belfast and my old haunt of Carrickfergus. It was not too long ago that it opened at these premises, but the good news is that demand has been so heavy that they are now seeking to expand the facility.

The Antrim Times has the story at about the development, which includes a good interview with the organisation's Sarah Ardis, NIFHS education and development officer, outlining how to get underway with research, as well as a wee bit about the society itself.

There are 12 regional branches - Ballymena, Belfast, Coleraine, Fermanagh, Foyle, Killyleagh, Larne, Lisburn, Newtownabbey, North Armagh, North Down and Ards, and Omagh. It's the only society that I am currently a member of, and it is worth every penny, with some great and friendly folk - recommended!

(With thanks to Eddie Connolly @teddiec via Twitter)


For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at

Recent UK death indexes released on Ancestry

Ancestry ( has released a couple of interesting, if not somewhat bewildering, death indexes on its site, as follows:

Scotland and Northern Ireland, Death Index, 1989-2013

England and Wales, Death Index, 2007-2013

The source has simply been listed as 'Various sources', however, genealogist Karen Cummings (@CummingsPFH) has contacted Ancestry via Twitter to ask what the source is, to which they have responded "The source of this collection is GreyPower Deceased Data, compiled by Wilmington Millennium". Wilmington Millenium appears to be this company online at, noted as offering "intelligent consumer data suppression and lead generation products created in conjunction with leading industry partners". There is no mention of a partnership with Ancestry on its site however.

A typical search yields the following info - name, gender, age, birth date (variously reported as a year or with the full date), death date, residential place at death, and a postal code district.

Without a decent provenance for the source, i.e. any understanding of what it is, I would suggest that any entries on this be treated simply as a finding aid that should be pursued via the usual sources through the three respective General Register Offices of the UK. These are as follows:

Scotland - records can be ordered via (£12 each)
Northern Ireland - via (£15 each)
England and Wales - via (£9.25 each)

Scottish finds can be partially corroborated online via ScotlandsPeople (, which does index death records within the last 50 years, but does not provide the digitised register images, as with earlier records. (All records, including up to the present day, can be accessed at the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh, or at other centres in Scotland providing access to the same database, for £15 unlimited access). No online GRO indexes are available for Northern Ireland in this period, nor for England and Wales.

I have read many reports from users saying that the databases are not complete. Scotland seems to be better covered than Northern Ireland, and my own mother's death, in Manchester, England, in November 2013, is not included. I have found my grandmother's death in Carrickfergus - her date of death is given as 22 JUL 2011, and her birth year as 1922, both correct. her name is simply given as Mrs Martha Graham though - her full name was in fact Martha Jane Elizabeth Watton Bill Smyth, so don't be expecting too much in the detail!

So it is an interesting resource, one that needs handling with caution, but potentially useful. But no substitute for the placing of indexes online by the English, Welsh and Northern Irish GROs, as has been done by Scotland via ScotlandsPeople.


For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Irish Poverty Relief Loan records on FindmyPast

From FindmyPast (

Findmypast makes Irish Poverty Relief Loan records available online for the first time to mark Irish Family History Day

With the addition of exciting new record sets, leading family history website Findmypast is now the best place to research your Irish ancestry

Dublin, Ireland. 23 January 2015. Findmypast has digitised and is publishing the Poverty Relief Loans records from The National Archives in London online for the first time. This release - together with the addition of a new, easier to search version of the Ireland Census 1911 - makes Findmypast home to the largest online collection of Irish family history records anywhere in the world.

New records: Poverty Relief Loans

The Irish Reproductive Loan Fund was a privately funded micro credit scheme set up in 1824 to provide small loans to the ‘industrious poor’ – those most affected by poverty and famine.

This collection of almost 700,000 records, which span the period of the Irish Potato Famine, provides unique insight into the lives of those living in Ireland during one of the darkest periods in its history. The handwritten ledgers and account books reveal the changing fortunes of Irish ancestors and their subsequent movements in Ireland and across the world. Now anyone can go online and research individuals and families to find out more about where they lived, their financial situation, their social status and more besides.

Brian Donovan, Head of Irish Data and Business Development for Findmypast, said “These incredibly important records provide an exceptional insight into the lives of the poor across the west of Ireland from Sligo down to Cork. The people recorded are precisely those who were most likely to suffer the worst of the Famine or be forced to emigrate. These remarkable records allow us to chart what happened to 690,000 people like this from the 1820s to the 1850s, giving a glimpse of their often heart breaking accounts of survival and destitution, misery and starvation. We are very lucky to be able to tell their stories.”

Caroline Kimbell, Head of Licensing at The National Archives in London said “This collection is one of very few about individual Irish families from 19th century held at Kew. We are grateful to Findmypast for bringing these remarkable testaments to light.”

These new records complement an expansive collection of Irish records - including Irish Petty Sessions, Irish Prison Registers, Irish newspapers and Irish Births 1864-1958, to name a few – that make Findmypast the best place to bring Irish family history to life.

Exclusive Irish records – digitised for the first time

As well as the Poverty Relief Loans, Findmypast has today added other new Irish record sets, including the Clare Electoral Registers, which reveal early women voters and is only available online at Findmypast, the Ireland Census 1911 and over 800,000 Irish marriages dating back to 1619.

The Ireland Census 1911 is an excellent starting point for anyone researching their Irish ancestors. Findmypast’s powerful search will for the first time allow family historians to search for more than one family member at the same time, helping to narrow down results, and by birth year and by spelling variations of a name – all making it easier than ever to trace Irish ancestors.

Irish Family History Day

This year, Findmypast’s Irish Family History Day – an annual celebration of Irish heritage – takes place on 23 January.

It will be marked by the launch of exciting new record sets, as well as webinars, guides and advice, information on the records and exclusive offers to access Findmypast’s extensive Irish record collection.


As part of Irish Family History Day, Findmypast will be running an online webinar and Q&A session hosted by Irish family history expert, Brian Donovan. The webinar will cover getting started with Irish family history, as well as hints and tips on getting further with your research.

The webinar will be held at 5pm GMT on 23 January. Brian will be on hand to answer questions after the webinar. For more information, and to register interest, visit

(With thanks to FindmyPast)


For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Irish Family History Resources Online - new 2nd edition

I've been working on a few Unlock the Past ( publications over the last couple of weeks. The first of these is a brand new updated 2nd edition of my Irish Family History Resources Online book, first published in Australia in 2011. The following is the contents list for the new guide, and the cover blurb:

There is a popular belief that Irish family history research is virtually impossible because 'all the records were burned in the civil war'. But as Northern Irish born family historian Chris Paton demonstrates, the glass is most definitely half full rather than half empty when it comes to research in the Emerald Isle. Many records still exist which can help with your ancestral pursuits, and for those unable to make their way to Ireland to carry out research, the internet is finally coming to the rescue, as more and more material is increasingly finding it's way online by the day.

This revised and fully updated Unlock the Past guide explores the key repositories and records now available online, and will prove to you that if you have been put off with Irish research in the past, now is absolutely the time to take another look.

Second edition
Who were they?
- Civil registration
- Church records
- Burial records
- Wills and probate
- Biographical databases
- Heraldry
Where were they?
- Censuses
- Street directories
- Land records
- Maps and gazetteers
Archives and Libraries
- National Archives of Ireland
- National Library of Ireland
Newspapers and Books
- Newspapers
- Books, journals and magazines
Other useful material
- Gateway sites
- Military, police and the law
- Emigration
- Miscellaneous sites of interest
- Magazines
Some further reading

This new edition includes many new detailed and revised sections, including a walkthrough of the new Northern Irish based Geni website, and many other additions. You'll also notice that the cover design is significantly different to the first edition, and the UTP range as a whole - the range is being given a facelift, with this new book one of the first few being published to the new design style.

As many of you know, I wear two hats in the genie world, working in both Scottish and Irish research, and so I'm also close to finishing a brand new Scottish based guide for the company, and this one's most definitely a wee bit different! I've been having an absolute ball writing it, after having placed it on hold for a year (I had previously started work on it just prior to my mother's death at the end of 2013, after which it was shelved for a period) but I'll hold off on saying any more about that for now - save to say that when disaster hit in the days of yore, when times were hard and our ancestors were seemingly down and out, there was usually someone with a quill and ink close to hand!  I've provisionally agreed to write at least two more Scottish and Irish guides on top of these this year, and will be participating as one of the speakers on the company's Baltic based genealogy cruise this coming July (see, so it's a busy year ahead!

Several of my Unlock the Past guides, as well as titles from other authors, are now also available in the UK from My History ( and from Canadian based Global Genealogy (, whilst the full range is of course available in Australia via Gould Genealogy ( If you prefer an e-edition, then Gen-eBooks is the place to go at If ordering from Gould, I believe there may be a short delay with orders, as the staff are currently working on an Unlock the Past genealogy cruise in Australia, so please bear with them!


For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at

Friday, 16 January 2015

British military and English collections added to FindmyPast

More British and English collections from FindmyPast (

British Army Bond of Sacrifice: Officers Died in the Great War 1914-1916, contains over 2,600 officer biographies from both volumes of the Bond of Sacrifice. The Bond of Sacrifice was designed to act as a biographical record of all British officers who fell in the Great War. Volume 1 covered the first four months of the war and closed in December 1914, while Volume 2 covered the first six months of 1915. The original intention was to create a volume for every six months of the war to include the names of all the officers, who died from causes directly related to active service. However, due in no small part to the huge number of officer casualties, and to the publishers running out of money, the series was never completed.

Names are listed in alphabetical order and most entries include a photo portrait and a short biography. The biographies usually consist of parents’ names, educational background, achievements and, when present, spouse’s name and children’s names. The entries also detail the officer’s military career and often include a description about how the officer lost his life. Many include comments from commanding officers about the bravery and gallantry of the officer under their command.

London, Docklands and East End Marriages, 1558-1859 contain over 92,000 records. Covering 8 East End Parishes, each record contains a transcript of the original Parish registers. The amount of information listed may vary but records can include the couple’s names, their marital status, the groom’s occupation, the date of the wedding and where it took place.

The East End of London has always been home to a variety of immigrant communities. In the 17th century Huguenot refugees settled in Spitalfields, followed by Irish weavers and other ethnic groups, many of whom came in search of work in the blossoming clothing industry there.

Derbyshire, Derby Railway Servants’ Orphanage registers 1875-1912 lists the details of children from Northern Britain whose father’s died while working on the Railways. The Derby Railway Servants’ Orphanage opened in 1875 in response to the hundreds of railway employees, who died each year in the course of their work. Children were admitted from railway companies all over Great Britain and Ireland and the Derby home catered for the north of Britain. Children were admitted between the ages of 6 and 12, had to leave at the age of 15 and would be classified as orphans even if their mother was still alive.

Each record contains a transcript of the original register. The amount of information varies but records can include details of the father’s occupation and death, mother’s address, any siblings, dates of arrival and departure and signatures. Many records also include additional notes such as comments on behaviour, employment prospects, health, religious denomination and funding.

(With thanks to Alex Cox)


For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at