Thursday, 19 April 2018

TheGenealogist adds another 64,920 War Memorial records and 13,487 new headstone records.

A press release from TheGenelogist gives information on an eclectic mix of 64,920 War Memorial records just added:
- a complete roll of honour for both WW1 and WW2 for Shetland, with men's units and the Shetland village in which they had resided. - other war memorials including the Abercarn Tinplaters Memorial Institute in Wales.
- plaques and monuments in Bedford, Bolton, Lancashire, London, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Warwickshire and even further afield.
- a fascinating, but sadly very worn, WW2 memorial from Calgary that names 227 aircrew from Australia and New Zealand who died while training in Canada.
- from the USA WW1 and WW2 war memorials from New York, including a fine one in Battery Park, a roll of those men and women who lost their lives in the Atlantic coastal waters in WW2 and had no known grave as a result of U-boat action. The war memorial gives researchers the ranks, units and the US state from which they had come.
- a number of Boer War memorials - for example the tribute within Blackpool Town Hall that commemorates the 74 Blackpool men who volunteered to join various units for service in South Africa.

These new records and more are available as part of the Diamond Subscription at TheGenealogist.

Using DNA with Your One-Name Study

If like me you missed Maurice Gleeson's webinar presentation on Tuesday 17 April 2018, I did owing to a timing problem, it's now available for review.
Using DNA with Your One-Name Study, dealing mainly with Y-chromosome DNA, is available to everyone free for a limited time after which it will go into the Guild members only area, Don't miss the opportunity to view it.

OGS Kingston Branch April Meeting

The Kingston Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society will meet on Saturday, April 21st at 9:45 a.m. at the Kingston Seniors Centre, 56 Francis St. in Kingston.  Kyla Ubbink, professional archival conservator from Ottawa, will speak on "Preservation of Documents and Photos".  Visitors always welcome.  Further details at

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Ottawa's New Library - "We're not building a box here"

Good news on a dreary day was a quote from the City of Ottawa Library Board Chair, Councillor Tim Tierney:
"We're not building a box here." 
His comment, which hopefully extends to a collection of boxes, came as the city released a list of five teams in the running to design the joint Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada superlibrary at 557 Wellington Street.

Here's the list with links where you'll find showcase projects they have been involved with:

Bing Thom Architects (Canada) – GRC Architects (Canada)
Diamond Schmitt Architects (Canada) - KWC Architects (Canada)
Mecanoo International b.v. (Holland) - NORR Architects & Engineers Ltd (Canada)
Patkau Architects (Canada) - MSDL Architects (Canada) – GRC Architects (Canada)
Schmidt/hammer/lassen/ architects (Denmark) - KPMB Architects (Canada) - Hobin Architecture Inc. (Canada).

Library and Archives Canada Departmental Plan 2018-19

Tabling of the 2018-19 Estimates for the Government of Canada, including Departmental Plans, was delayed from previous years, until Monday 16 April.

Here's the bottom line for LAC. Spending drops in 2018-19 from the previous year, still above the 2016-17 level, then increases with the start on the new archival facility in Gatineau.
As a client and genealogist I'll focus here on the Providing Access to Documentary Heritage component of the plan. That's not to downplay the vital "behind the curtains" parts of the mandate that are essential if there is to be something to access now and for the future.
Librarian and Archivist Guy Berthaiume's opening message highlights:
"First, for client service and access to our collection, we are implementing an agreement with the Online Computer Library Centre (OCLC) co-operative to create a new union catalogue that will provide Canadians with easier access to the resources of hundreds of the country’s libraries. The digitizing of some 640,000 Canadian Expeditionary Force records, which we expect to complete in 2018, will also increase access to our documentary heritage."
"To showcase our collection, we will move ahead with two major new projects to preserve and revitalize Indigenous languages and cultures. See Our History will digitize records in our collection relating to First Nations, Inuit and Métis, while Hear Our Voices will help Indigenous communities to record their oral histories."
To support its Indigenous languages and cultures initiative LAC receives a spending increase of $4.3 million.

Genealogy (genealogists) are mentioned three times; two are repeats with virtually the same wording.

Again this year there is no mention of newspapers or newspaper digitization. Considering the value of newspapers as an historical resource for all sectors of society this is a continuing blind spot in an otherwise admirable program. Why the neglect?

Something new. To increase online access to its collection "LAC will experiment with a crowdsourcing web platform where the public can transcribe and describe contents of the collection to make them findable and accessible." This follows the two crowdsourced transcription projects run in the last two years judged as successful. LAC introduced this capability, call Co-Lab, on Tuesday 17 April 2018.

This is part of the content of one of the two highlights boxes included. The other most welcome one is: "The “Dragon’s Den” activity in 2017–18 as part of Blueprint 2020 was a great success. LAC will repeat it in 2018–19, to take advantage of its employees’ creative skills and to use their ideas. Employees are invited to present innovative projects to the LAC’s “dragons.” Projects selected have resources allocated for their development ($25,000 per project)."

This table shows two of the performance benchmarks included which have a history, there are others with none. We will have to wait to see how the target compares with the achievement in the fiscal year just ended. I'd hoped for more ambitious targets.

There is no mention of the initiative of a co-located service facility with the Ottawa Public Library.

OGS Quinte Branch April Meeting

The Quinte Branch of Ontario Genealogical Society meets on 21 April, 2018 when Peter and Angela Johnson UE present "United Empire Loyalists - applying for UEL standing".
At Quinte West Public Library, 7 Creswell Dr, Trenton 1-3 pm. Everyone welcome, bring a friend.
Visit and

Frederick Alexander Mitchell: CWGC Beechwood

Drafted on 12 March 1918 Frederick Alexander Mitchell, posted to Canadian Infantry 1st Depot Battalion (Eastern Ontario) in Kingston, reported sick on 13 April 1918. Admitted to Hotel Dieu Hospital he was diagnosed with typhoid fever and pneumonia and died 5 days later.
He was born on 15 August 1895, occupation tailor, the son of John and Lucy Mitchell, of 505 Cooper St., Ottawa according to his military and death records.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Book Review: Children's Homes

Children's Homes: a history of institutional care for Britain's young. By Peter Higginbotham. Published by Pen and Sword (Oct. 17 2017)
ISBN-10: 1526701359; ISBN-13: 978-1526701350
Paperback $26.73 Cdn on Amazon
Kindle $18.58 Cdn.

Peter Higginbotham is best known for, a goldmine of information for anyone with ancestors who were in or connected to a British workhouse.

Most of us have a workhouse connection. We may not know it. Apparently UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn had a great-great-grandfather who was "the despotic master of the Farnham workhouse." Even more have a connection to a children's home.

From 1552 and the founding of Christ's Hospital in London, to 2016 when its final chapter was written, Peter Higginbotham's latest book recounts the story of the means by which society dealt with orphaned and indigent children, and those abused by parents or guardians.

The first three chapters deal with the evolution of the "system"—the  term giving the impression of more organization than existed. Many children would have fallen between the cracks, especially in earlier times.

The heart of the book is chapters on the various organizations. Barnardo's, National Children's Homes, Waifs and Strays familiar because they migrated many children to Canada, merit their own chapters. Others relate to various specialized homes. The is a separate chapter on Emigration Homes covering some of the less prominent organizations who emigrated children.

If researching a particular child the chapter Children's Home Records will be one to turn to. To learn about their likely experience read the chapter Life in Children's Homes.
Some of the other material is detailed and more useful as reference for the family history researcher once they are able to narrow their interest.

There's also food for thought for the social historian interested in the way society ideas on the best way to deal with children who find themselves in unfortunate circumstances have evolved.

The book concludes with 10 pages of references and notes, an 6-page bibliography and 8-page index.

This blog post is based on a review copy received from the publisher.

Britain from Above

Over 95,000 images taken from the air dating from 1919 to 1953 are on the website Britain From Above. It includes urban, suburban, rural, coastal and industrial scenes. Chances are there's something of interest for locations in your family history.

With England, Scotland and Wales the focus it's easy to overlook the images for the island of Ireland and other nearby jurisdictions.

On the topic of geography, don't overlook the massive collection of maps for all areas available through Old Maps Online

Monday, 16 April 2018

Stephen Harper: LAC's million dollar man

According to the Main Estimates for 2018–19 tabled in Parliament on Monday Library and Archives Canada is proposed to receive a net increase of $4.5 million over the 2017–18 Main Estimates.  The changes are:

An increase of $4.3 million for the revitalization of Indigenous languages and cultures initiative;
An increase of $2.3 million for negotiated salary adjustments;
An increase of $1.1 million for the private records of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper;An increase of $0.5 million for adjustments to the contributions to employee benefits plans; and
A decrease of $3.7 million for the implementation of the Long Term Real Property Plan.
The full LAC Departmental Plan 2018-19 which might have further details is yet to be posted.

MyHeritage expands DNA Quest

More than 10,000 applications have been submitted so far to receive free MyHeritage DNA kits to help adoptees and their birth families reunite through genetic testing. They are all from the USA which was the initial target.
Now MyHeritage is opening the offer internationally until the quota of 15,000 kits is filled, or the end of April, whichever come first.
Find out more and apply at

Casualty Identification at DND

Were you one of the Ottawa genealogists, and others, who missed the main presentation Identifying the Remains of Canadian Soldiers from the First and Second World Wars by Dr. Sarah Lockyer at the BIFHSGO meeting on Saturday 14 April 2018?

If so you can review much of the material presented at the the Casualty Identification section of the DND Directorate of History and Heritage website. It includes information on more cases than there was time to present at the meeting.

I was impressed by the achievement given that Dr Lockyear revealed she is the sole full-time staff member, assisted by part-time staff, and operates with a budget of $100,000.

There was a lively question period following the presentation.

Asked about the budget she replied that any increase would have to come from funds for more immediately pressing DND responsibilities.

There is a backlog of (30?) unresolved cases. Puzzlement was expressed that more is not being done to solicit the help of the public in solving these cases, such as by presenting what is known, including DNA profiles, in a public database.

I was surprised that only mitochondrial and Y-chromosome STR DNA data is being employed when there is now the capability of extracting much more from degraded samples. That could lead to improved probability and more definitive identification.

I was also surprised that in one of the recent cases presented DNA evidence was not obtained. A review panel judged the other evidence was sufficiently conclusive, apparently without any quantitative assessment of the confidence in that conclusion.

Paul Milner reviews Manorial Records for Family Historians by Geoffrey Barber

Book reviews are a staple of Paul Milner's blog/website although it's a staple that would leave one famished, he doesn't post often. The previous review was in January.
This time Paul reviews Manorial Records for family historians. By Geoffrey Barber, published by UnlockThePast Publications.
Read the review here.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

CEF Service Files Update for April 2018

As of 15 April 2018 there are 581,553 (568,203 last month) of about 640,000 files available online in the LAC Personnel Records of the First World War database.

The latest box available is 9,926 and last name Venables (Timson).

At the last month's rate the last file will be online in September.

Don't dismay, spring is on its way

Thankfully we mostly dodged the snow bullet at Gene-O-Rama and BIFHSGO's event on Saturday. Attendance was down, expected with two simultaneous genealogy events and the dismal forecast. 
Signs of spring; birds are singing—and shivering.
Get through another couple of miserable wet days then enjoy a nice warming trend with double digit temperatures predicted for the end of the week by the North American Ensemble Forecast System and continuing to warm.

Remittance Men

My short article Canada's Silver Spoon British Migrants is published on the site for the Secret Lives conference, 31 August - 2 September 2018.

Titanic Anniversary

William W Louttit: CWGC Beechwood

William Wallace Louttit was born 12 July 1891 in Castleford, Ontario.
He was single, son of William Louttit, a ticket agent for the CPR with paternal origin in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. His occupation was accountant (Assigned Pay Branch of the Militia Dept) and residence 86 Elm Street in Ottawa which was his father's address.
Having received an exemption the previous November until men in category B2 (fit for base units of the medical service, garrison, or regimental outdoor duty) were call up, he enlisted on 25 March 1918. In Ottawa he was quartered at Lansdowne Park while attached as a Gunner to the 74th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery. Admitted to St Luke's Hospital on 9 April with a temperature of 105F he died of pneumonia, age 25, on 15 April 1918 having served less than one month.

George M Atchison: CWGC Beechwood

Honorary Captain George Milton Atchison died on this date of  epidemic cerebo-spinal meningitis.
Age 40, a bookkeeper prior to the war, he was employed with the audit branch of the Militia Department.
He was survived by his wife, Lena Maud Atchison (nee Whittaker), of 30 Euclid Avenue, and his father Joseph Atchison, of Woodbury, Conn., U.S.A. His mother was the late Adelaide Amelia Atchison (nee Tough).