Thursday, 29 January 2015

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)


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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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