Thursday, 27 April 2017

Ancestry's World Archives Project Update

Ancestry has published an update on its volunteer-powered indexing World Archives Project covering the last year.
In 2016 405,134 image sets were indexed for a total of 15,234,403 records
So far in 2017 80,180 image sets have been indexed for a total of 3,882,024 records.

Find a list of completed projects at,_Live_Projects

Selected active indexing projects, all considered to be of average difficulty and of likely interest to readers of this blog, are:

Bedfordshire, England, Workhouse and Poor Law Records
Belfast, Northern Ireland, The Belfast Newsletter (Birth, Marriage and Death Notices), 1738-1925 (Part 3)
Ontario, Canada, The Ottawa Journal (Birth, Marriage and Death Notices), 1885-1980
UK, Absent Voters Lists (Part 1).

There's also a UK, Historical Photographs project assessed as easy.

Timely death statistics

Every month I get a press release from the Office for National Statistics in the UK  like this one received on 25 April. 
The provisional number of deaths registered in England and Wales in March 2017 was 48,615; this represents an increase of 889 deaths in comparison with the previous month and a decrease of 25 deaths in comparison with the same month in 2016.
Weekly statistics are issued. This week it's
The provisional number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 14 April 2017 (week 15) was 8,493; this represents a decrease of 1,446 deaths registered in comparison with the previous week (week 14).
The average number of deaths for the corresponding week over the previous 5 years was 10,624.The decrease in the deaths registered in the week ending 14 April 2017 is likely to be due to the closure of register offices over the Easter period. This pattern is similar to previous years.
Timely issue of death statistics goes back to bills of mortality, weekly mortality statistics in London, designed to monitor burials from 1592 to 1595 and then continuously from 1603.

I was curious as to why we don't get similar statistics in Canada.

Recognizing health is a provincial jurisdiction I enquired of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care with the specific query "Does your ministry keep track of current (weekly or monthly) death statistics?" 

The initial reply gave contact information on various other government organizations but did not answer the specific question. A follow-up asking for a specific answer was rewarded by the reply that "The MOHLTC does not keep track of death statistics."

Apparently not only do we not get current mortality information but the Ontario ministry responsible for health has no idea as to the current status. In an information age we are less informed than they were in London in the 16th century!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Advance Notice: Secret Lives – Hidden Voices of our Ancestors

There's a major conference planned for late summer 2018 in England which you may want to plan on attending..
Four major genealogical organisations, the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA), The Guild of One Name Studies, the Halsted Trust and the Society of Genealogists are cooperating to host a major family history conference to be held from Friday 31st August to Sunday 2nd September 2018 in Hinckley, Leicestershire.

The theme is Secret Lives – Hidden Voices of our Ancestors. Some potential topics are:

Bigamy, Divorce, Marriage breakdown from 18th-20th centuries; LGBTQIA Lives, social history, records and current research; Criminal under class; Bagnios and Bawdy Houses. Prostitution in18th Century London; Fallen Women -Victorian Prostitution and Reform; Victorian Detectives, Police and Crime; Transportation; Social deprivation in London and other urban areas; Social deprivation and life in rural areas; Researching Women ancestors; Ecclesiastical or Bawdy Courts cases; Litigation and civil and equity court  records case studies; Migrant communities – Jewish Manchester, Irish Liverpool 
Workhouses and other institutions inmates; School and institutions for poor children; A poor person’s death- Funeral Clubs and Friendly Societies;
There a call out for presentation proposals at 

Historical Society of Ottawa: April meeting

Friday 28 April 2017: 1 pm
Routhier Community Centre
172 Guigues Street

Thomas Ahearn - The Electrification of Ottawa, presented by Kelly Ray

Abstract: Thomas Ahearn, born in Lebreton Flats to Irish immigrant parents, was an early adapter of new technology. He brought innovation to Ottawa by introducing electricity to the city. He provided lighting, powered his streetcars, and developed a number of electrical devices such as irons, stoves and heaters. He was the first person to prepare a meal on an electric stove, among other things. Hear about his technological and political achievements that helped shape the city of Ottawa and see documents and artifacts from this Canadian inventor and businessman.

Profile: Kelly Ray works in public affairs for the Canada Science and Technology Museum. Holding degrees in anthropology and public relations, it is quite fitting that as a great, great grand niece of Thomas Ahearn, she makes a career of sharing stories of innovation and Canadian technology. She has worked for over a decade in the cultural and tourism sectors at the Calgary Zoo as well as multiple museums here in Ottawa.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

A Footnote in Canadian Military History

Harry B. Little's grave is the only one with a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone in the Lutheran Cemetery at Czar, Alberta. 

Little died 10 days after the start of the First World War, the first man serving with the Canadian Expeditionary Force to die. While the circumstances were not militarily glorious, he died of a heart attack in the train heading east having left Edmonton just a few hours earlier, he gets the same dignified recognition as all other casualties.

Both his father and grandfather had seen service in Canada with the British Army.

The headstone is set apart, about 20 yards north of the hilltop entrance to the cemetery, no longer the main entrance as stated in the CWGC report.

Little was one of the many British immigrants who joined up early with the CEF. Born in Stroud, on the edge of the scenic Cotswolds, his grave site has a certain Prairie charm.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Alberta Genealogical Society Conference: Day 2

It was a shock to open the bedroom curtains in the hotel in Edmonton to this sight on Sunday. This doesn't happen in Ottawa on St George's Day which is also Shakespeare's birthday. I obviously could not start my first presentation with the quote "Now is our winter of discontent made glorious summer ..."

With three presentations to give my perspective on the conference was limited. I enjoyed giving all the presentations on London Burials, British WW2 Child Evacuees to Canada and British Newspapers.

I did manage to attend the opening plenary by Kyle Betit on his experience with WDYTYA, the US TV program. ProGenealogists, the part of Ancestry in which he is involved, spends an average of 600 hours researching each episode, starting with building a family tree back 4 generations. These days the celebrities (or their agents) come of WDYTYA to be involved whereas for the first few series they had to be solicited.

Along the way Kyle mentioned that AncestryDNA now has 4 million tests completed, up from 3 million in January.

Thank's to the Alberta Genealogical Society for allowing me to be part of their event.

BIFHSGO Conference 2017 Speakers

With an enjoyable Alberta Genealogical Society conference just ended, and the Ontario Genealogical Society conference in Ottawa in June somehow the BIFHSGO conference seems a long way away. Registration doesn't even open until 1 May.
There was a deliberate decision made this year not to program any of the OGS conference speakers which meant declining some proposals that would certainly be accepted otherwise.
Keynote speaker Celia Heritage has never spoken here before. Celia is a regular at WDYTYA? Live. Paul Milner got rave reviews last time he spoke to BIFHSGO so was invited back. Rounding out the out-of-town contingent is James F. S. Thomson, one of my personal favourites.
BIFHSGO is fortunate to have local people to profile, all of whom have spoken before, adding to the diversity and strength of the program.
Find out more about BIFHSGO Conference 2017 at

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Ancestry Updates Obituary Collections

Canada, Obituary Collection, 1898-2015, 1,266,544 records
UK and Ireland, Obituary Index, 2004-2017, 1,077,844 records

are the most recent updates to the Ancestry obituary collections.

The US and Australia & New Zealand collections are also updated.

Alberta Genealogical Society Conference: Day 1

Congratulations to the organizers of the Alberta Genealogical Society conference being held in Edmonton this weekend, billled as "Ye Olde Genealogy Faire". The venue was expertly decorated on the theme by members of the Red Deer Branch.

Some of the presenters, including David and Celia Tyler from Raymond, Alberta, were dressed for the occasion.

The attendence was a record for the society, 300 counting presenters and exhibitors.

Winner of the Ancestry door prize for a 0ne year full Ancestry subscription was Solveig Anderson.

Aside for the organizers the hardest working person at the event was Diahan Southard who gave three presentations and the evening banquet talk.

St George`s Day Feast

It`s 23 April. Celebrate St George`s Day in style

What more appropriate than a serving of fish and chips