Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Genealogist adds more war memorial photographs

The Genealogist (www.thegenealogist.co.uk) 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."

Chris

For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at www.scotlandsgreateststory.co.uk.

New Royal Commission secretary for Wales

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (www.rcahmw.gov.uk) 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 http://heritageofwalesnews.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/appointment-of-new-royal-commission.html

Chris

For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at www.scotlandsgreateststory.co.uk.

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.

Education

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: https://www.justgiving.com/iwm/ highlighting that your donation is a response to Prospect's petition.

The petition is available to sign at https://www.change.org/p/rt-hon-george-osborne-mp-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

(With thanks to @Save_IWMLibrary)

Chris

For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at www.scotlandsgreateststory.co.uk.

FindmyPast, Scottish census sources, and Moby Dick

In a separate post I have just announced FindmyPast's new site navigation beta layout - see http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/findmypast-new-beta-navigation-layout.html.

As in now traditional in posts these days where I take a look at FindmyPast (www.findmypast.co.uk) 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 http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/findmypast-scottish-censuses.html). 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 http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/findmypast-finally-plans-to-sort.html and http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/findmypast-scottish-census-source.html).

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 http://www.professionalfamilyhistory.co.uk/blog/2015/01/a-plea-show-us-your-sources/. 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 (www.ancestry.co.uk):



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 ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk, 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 (http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C13337):

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...


Chris

For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at www.scotlandsgreateststory.co.uk.

FindmyPast new beta navigation layout

FindmyPast (www.findmypast.co.uk) has announced a new Beta search tool on its site. The full announcement is at http://blog.findmypast.co.uk/2015/your-handy-guide-to-our-new-search-navigation/. The beta search tool for the UK collections is accessible via http://beta.search.findmypast.co.uk/advancedsearch?region=united-kingdom&searchlevel=category&searcharea=records. 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.

Chris

For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at www.scotlandsgreateststory.co.uk.

Kindertransport records on FindmyPast

From FindmyPast (www.findmypast.co.uk):

“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, Findmypast.co.uk, 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.


Records

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 (www.nationalarchives.co.uk), 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)

Chris

For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at www.scotlandsgreateststory.co.uk.

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 http://chrispatonsblog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/the-poor-had-no-lawyers-who-owns.html.

Chris

For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at www.scotlandsgreateststory.co.uk.

Talks, conferences and exhibitions updates from PRONI

An update on forthcoming events in Belfast at PRONI (www.proni.gov.uk):

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


Talks

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.


Exhibitions

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.


Conferences

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)

Chris

For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at www.scotlandsgreateststory.co.uk.

PRONI launches conflict related records access guides

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (www.proni.gov.uk) 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 www.proni.gov.uk/index/research_and_records_held/catalogues_guides_indexes_and_leaflets/information_leaflets.htm#conflict_related_court_and_inquest_records

Chris

For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at www.scotlandsgreateststory.co.uk.

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 http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/irish-family-history-resources-online.html

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 www.gould.com.au/Unlock-the-Past-guides-s/2576.htm. Ebook versions are also available at www.gen-ebooks.com, whilst details on how to obtain my titles in Canada and England are accessible at http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html.

Chris

For details on my range of genealogy guide books please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. To commission me for genealogical research, please visit my research site at www.scotlandsgreateststory.co.uk.