Friday 30 March 2012

Angus Archives family history events

Angus Archives has posted details of a series of events over the next few months for family historians and those wishing to learn more about the facility. The details are available at

(With thanks to @scotlandspeople)


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Thursday 29 March 2012

John Gray Centre - the new East Lothian archive

The following is a short video illustrating what's to see at the new John Gray Centre (, the archive centre, library and museum for East Lothian based at 15 Lodge Street, Haddington, EH41 3DX. The centre opens formally tomorrow (March 30th).

(With thanks to @sheenatait and @scotsgen)


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Forthcoming Society of Genealogists events

With thanks to Lori Wenstein of the Society of Genealogists for the following lists of events at the society's library in April and May. To book a place, visit or contact the events department at 020 7553 3290 or by email at :

Sat 14 Apr 10:30-13:00 Family Historian Software for Beginners
This program has a number of innovative features and is geared for the British market. The course will give you an overview of the program as well a discussion about the soon to be released version 5. Please note this course has been rescheduled from 3 March.
A half-day Course with John Hanson £17.50

Sat 14 Apr 14:00-17:00 My Ancestor Came From Dorset: Those That Stayed and Those That Went
We will look at what resources are available, where to find them and how to use them, why some people left Dorset and others stayed.
A Half-day course with Jane Ferentzi-Sheppard £17.50

Wed 18 Apr 14:00 Lost Voices from the Titanic
An exploration of the Titanic and look at the impact on those who escaped the disaster, and what became of them in the ensuing years.
A one-hour lecture with Nick Barratt £6.00

Sat 21 Apr 10:30-17:00 Further Sources for Tracing London Ancestors
This full-day course will consist of four sessions, Internet Sources (Peter Christian), Heraldry (Geoff Swinfield), Apprenticeships (Richard Harvey) and London immigration records within the Society of Genealogists collections (Else Churchill), with breaks for lunch (not provided) and tea.

Wed 25 Apr 14:00 The Matchwomen's Strike of 1888 and Their Place in History
In July 1888, fourteen hundred women employed by the matchmakers Bryant and May went on strike, protesting against poor working conditions and the dismissal of a fellow worker. Based on her book of the same name, Louise Raw will speak about the women involved.
A one-hour lecture, £6.00

Sat 28 Apr 10:30 Genealogy in Early British Censuses 1086-1841
There are dozens of pre-1841 censuses, dating back to the Domesday Survey of 1086 including government and church censuses, manorial and tax records and many more. You will learn more about these resources, where to find them and how to use them.
Half-day course with Colin Chapman £17.50

Sat 28 Apr 11:15 Free Library Tour, approximately 1.5 hours. Spaces limited, must be pre-booked through the library: 020 7702 5484, or email:

Sat 5 May 10:30-13:00 Genealogy Software for Macintosh Computers
There has been overwhelming interest in the Reunion package but the tutor can provide short demonstrations of most other software packages providing the request is made in advance (upon booking).
A half-day course with Tim Powys-Lybbe £17.50

Sat 5 May 14:00-17:00 Tracing East Anglian Ancestors
This course covers how to find resources in the traditional counties of East Anglia - Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex. Gill will outline the basics and go into detail of less well known avenues of research. For those researching outside of the area, a number of the topics covered will include skills which transfer to other parts of the country, which have similar elements to their history.
A half-day course with Gill Blanchard £17.50

Sat 12 May 10:30-13:00 How to Get the Most from Family Pictures
This full-day course is a visual Power Point presentation that provides an in-depth guide to dating, analysing and understanding all types of family portraits, from inherited paintings, drawings and silhouettes, to Victorian studio photographs and 20th century snapshots. Accurate dating is essential when trying to identify and discover more about unlabelled family pictures and the course demonstrates how to establish an accurate time frame, using a variety of techniques and research tools. It also discusses the portrait tradition and considers the historical context in which artworks and, later, photographs were commissioned: what did these special pictures mean to our ancestors and how should we interpret them? You are welcome to submit up to three photographs for analysis, please enquire upon booking for more information.
A full-day course with Jayne Shrimpton £30.00

Wed 16 May 14:00 Mapping Rich and Poor: Charles Booth's Enquiry into London Life and Labour
This talk will concentrate on how Charles Booth began the ‘Enquiry into London Life and Labour’ in 1886 and the final publication which ran to 17 volumes. With the help of a team of investigators, he filled 450 notebooks with information regarding the living conditions and the working and social lives of Victorian Londoners. The Enquiry also produced the Maps Descriptive of London Poverty which assign each street in London (outside of the City) a colour based on its ’social condition’. This talk is a must for anyone researching their family or local history in London.
A one-hour lecture with Sue Donnelly £6.00

Sat 19 May 10:30-13:00 Family History for Beginners & Refreshers
This full-day course is aimed at beginners to genealogy who have little prior knowledge of the basic sources. It is also suitable for those who wish to refresh their skills and learn how to access the records and their indexes online. Each session will provide a background to the records and demonstrate how they can be used to their best advantage through the internet.
A full-day course with Geoff Swinfield £30.00

Wed 23 May 14:00 Postman's Park & GF Watts Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice
Located amidst the hustle and bustle of the City of London, Postman’s Park not only provides a peaceful oasis of calm but also contains a unique and remarkable monument. The Watts Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice, created in 1900 by the Victorian artist G. F. Watts, commemorates sixty-two individuals, all of whom lost their own life while attempting to save another. Men, women and children are all represented on this beautiful and extraordinary testament to the Victorian idea of everyday heroism. This lecture will document the full and fascinating history of the monument, look in more detail at some of those who feature upon it and contextualise their memorialisation within the wider social and cultural history of Victorian London.
A one-hour lecture with John Price £6.00

Sat 26-May 10:30-13:00 Family Historian Software for Advanced Users
Family Historian is one of the UK's leading family history packages packed with features. This half day session will look at some of the advanced features in the program. It is designed for those that already have some knowledge of the program, but if you are having a problem then why not bring it along to be solved.
A half-day course with John Hanson £17.50

Sat 26 May 14:00-17:00 Research Your Surname & Your Family Tree
Find out about the origin of your surname and how this applies to your family history research. With Dr Graeme Davis, author, editor, academic researcher and associate lecturer with the Open University. He is a specialist in Mediaeval Language and Literature.
A half-day course with Graeme Davis £17.50

Sat 26 May 11:15 Free Library Tour, approximately 1.5 hours.
Spaces limited, must be pre-booked through the library: 020 7702 5484, or email:

Wed 30 May 14:00 What Did Your Ancestors Do?
Sadly there is no definitive list of every agricultural labourer in the country. However in certain circumstances we can glean genealogical information from the records relating to our ancestors work. From sources for professional people, to employees of the state to apprentices and freemen there is much that, if you are lucky, will help you in your research. The Society of Genealogists Library has a considerable array of source material on its professions, trades and occupations shelves and much of the talk will be based on what can be found at the Society as well as online and in local archives.
A one-hour lecture with Else Churchill £6.00


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TNA podcast - Total War

The latest podcast to be released by the National Archives at Kew is Total War, described as focussing on "the concept of total war, what it means, and what it has meant over the past 200 years, with particular reference to the First and Second World Wars, the Boer War, the American Civil War and the French Revolution". The speaker is Professor Gary Sheffield, Chair of War Studies and Director of Military History at the University of Birmingham.

To access the podcast visit or download for free from iTunes


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British GENES - one thousandth post!

I almost missed this one, but this post is the thousandth since the new British GENES blog was launched in September 2011! The first post, with a history of how it came into being as a follow up to Scottish GENES is available at

It's an opportune moment to say a huge thank you to all those who have signed up to receive daily newsletter feeds by email, to those who just drop in from time to time, to those who keep an eye on the Facebook page, access the British GENES Daily, and more! I hope it is helping with your research in some meaningful way.

The blog is only as successful as the information that I can lay my hands on, so please do get in touch if you have news to share of an event, a records release online, a product that will help others in their ancestral pursuits, an issue that will change the way we pursue our interest in the family history world, and more. Thanks to those who already do so, whether by email, by phone or by the many forms of social networking, and here's to a few more stories over the next few years!

If you'd like to contribute by some other means, perhaps by a guest post on an interesting topic, or perhaps by nominating who you think the local genie heroes are in Britain and Ireland, please do so, and please do continue to comment on posts, as I love to see what people think across the country on various issues raised.

Above all, remember, that British GENES is free and will continue to be so!

Slàinte! :)


(To subscribe to British GENES in a daily newsletter format by email, see the links on the left column of this page!)

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Guild wins at FFHS awards

The Guild of One Name Studies has issued a press release on award successes at the recent FFHS awards:

The Guild of One-Name Studies is pleased to announce the results of the Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS) 2011 Awards especially where they impact on the Guild and its members. The awards were announced at the FFHS’s AGM which took place in London on Saturday 24th March 2012. The results were:

The Elizabeth Simpson Award for best Journal
Large Societies 1st Somerset & Dorset FHS – ; 2nd Oxfordshire FHS – ; 3rd Guild of One Name Studies –

One Name Societies 
1st: Witheridge Family History Society –; 2nd: The Dalton Genealogical Society –; 3rd: Stonehewer-Stanier Society – All these one-name Societies have their surnames registered with the Guild of One-Name Societies.

Best Website
Overall Winner:   New Zealand Society of Genealogists
Large Societies 1st: The Families In British India Society 2nd: Guild of One-Name Studies 3rd: North of Ireland FHS
One-Name Societies 1st: Alabaster Society 2nd: Clan Davidson Association 3rd: The Filby Association. All these societies have their surnames registered with the Guild.

The Guild of One-Name Societies is delighted with the results of the FFHS’s Awards for 2011 for both its Website and Journal and looks forward to seeing ongoing improvements in the way the Guild provides information to its members and the genealogical community worldwide.

Details of the Guild’s facilities can be found at: - where you can find:

• more about undertaking a one-name study
• the benefits of joining the Guild of One-Name Studies, and the assistance members of the Guild can provide to anyone researching their family history on any of the 8,000 plus names currently being researched

Keith Bage, the Guild’s editor in 2011, said today "It is very pleasing to see the Guild being recognised in its efforts to produce an informative, high quality journal for its membership."

Anne Shankland, the Guild’s Webmaster, said today "It is pleasing to note that not only was the Guild itself represented in the top three large societies for both Journal and Website, but that all six of the winning one-name societies were for names registered with the Guild."

(Thanks to Cliff Kemball)


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Roger Lewry steps down from FFHS roles

The Federation of Family History Societies ( has announced that Roger Lewry has stepped down as archives liaison officer for the organisation at its AGM last weekend, after seven years in post. Roger was also Legislative Monitoring Officer.

I'd like to add my own personal thanks to Roger, who has been a great friend to this blog and its predecessor, Scottish GENES, over the last few years, as well as having provided assistance to several magazine articles that I have worked on in the past. Best of luck for the future Roger, both to you and your wife Carol.

Taking over as chair of the archives liaison committee is Beryl Evans, a name I'm sure regular blog readers will already be familiar with - good luck in the role Beryl!


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Wednesday 28 March 2012

Scottish 1915 Valuation Roll now online

The 1915 Valuation Roll for Scotland is now online at ScotlandsPeople ( As announced earlier, the cost will be one credit to search, and two credits to view an image - in total therefore just 70p.

To access the roll you need to visit the new section between the census records and the wills and coats of arms, bottom left of screen.

I have just performed a search on my great grandfather Robert Currie, and discovered him in Glasgow as a tenant at 187 1/2 Dalmarnock Road, where he is noted as a carter. The annual value of the property is £14 10s, and the proprietor noted as the trustees of Andrew Monteith, as per Mrs Marshall at 187 Dalmarnock Road.

A useful census substitute for the First World War period, though you will likely only find the head of household listed in most cases. The site's help section has as yet to be updated, but will be so in due course.

UPDATE: The 2 credits per view of an image is described by ScotlandsPeople as "an introductory offer" - no idea how long this will last. It seems that it will eventually cost 5 credits, as with census images.

(With thanks to @scotsgen and @scotlandspeople)


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Titanic Belfast opens on Saturday

OK, you've been gutted at how appalling the new TV series is, you're bored with eating Tayto's Titanic crisps, and the 3D movie may not be much cop as it was never filmed in 3D anyway, and it has THAT REALLY ANNOYING SONG. Anything left on the Titanic front to see or do?

Just one - Go to Belfast from this Saturday, and visit where my lot built the thing! (Yes my lot - at least one ancestor worked on it!). Here's the press release on how to get tickets and more:


Information for Visitors as Ticket Sales Approach 100,000

With just a few days until it opens at noon on Saturday March 31st, Titanic Belfast has revealed that almost 100,000 tickets have been pre-sold for its first year of operation.

While a limited number of tickets will be available for walk-up visitors, Titanic Belfast expects there to be huge demand, particularly during the opening weekend and centenary period. Where possible the public are being advised to buy tickets in advance to avoid disappointment and to remember that Titanic Belfast will be open all year round.

It has also been confirmed that the building will be opened by local dignitaries in a simple ceremony reminiscent of RMS Titanic’s own launch.

Tim Husbands, Titanic Belfast’s CEO, said:

“The vision for Titanic Belfast has been the best part of a decade in creation and now, with only a few days to go, Belfast has a stunning new addition to its skyline which will help put Northern Ireland on the international tourist trail.

“Pre-opening ticket sales for our first year are now approaching 100,000 – well ahead of expectations – and over the next few months we will be welcoming visitors from the four corners of the world as well as every corner of the UK and Ireland.

“Belfast gave the world Titanic, but now it’s time to bring the world back to Belfast – not just this April but for the 362 days which Titanic Belfast will be open during the year.

“Given the stunning visual appearance of Titanic Belfast we’re letting the building speak for itself on March 31st, with a simple ceremony, marked by the firing of two flares - as was the case when Titanic was launched. Other major events such as one of the world’s largest lighting shows and an MTV concert will take place during the Titanic Festival in April.”

Responding to the large-scale interest which Titanic Belfast has generated, its operators have also provided details for those planning to visit the attraction and attend events taking place in Titanic Quarter during the upcoming three-week festival.

Judith Owens, Titanic Belfast’s Operations Director, said:

“On opening day and throughout the centenary period in April there will be significant interest in visiting Titanic Belfast. Although tickets will be available every day, I strongly encourage people to purchase tickets online or by phone through the Belfast Welcome Centre to avoid disappointment. Although online tickets for opening day have been sold out, walk-up tickets will be available throughout the day from noon.

“In addition there will also be a number of events taking place in and around Titanic Belfast during the course of the Titanic Festival including international markets, music, street theatre and other free-of-charge family activities.

“The atmosphere promises to be very special and we encourage people to come down and enjoy this historic moment, but also to take time to plan their journey - whether that be by car, public transport or foot – check travel information prior to leaving, pre-book tickets wherever possible and follow guidance from stewards on the day.”

Access to Titanic Belfast

Location: Queen’s Road, Titanic Quarter, Belfast, Northern Ireland, BT3 9DT

By Car: Follow signs for Titanic Belfast from the M3, Belfast City Centre or Sydenham By-Pass if approaching from North Down.

Car Parking: Underground Parking at Titanic Belfast - 500 spaces Cost: £1.50 for the first hour, £1 per hour thereafter
Additional Parking: Queen’s Road (follow signs / stewards) - up to 1,500 spaces Cost: c.£1 per hour

Bus: Metro – Route Numbers 26, 26B, 26C, 600A / 600B. Services depart from Wellington Place. See
Train: NI Railways – closest station: Titanic Quarter (formerly Bridge End) – c. 15 minute walk. See

Foot: Follow signs from Belfast City Centre: 15 - 20 minutes

Further information and ticket purchases are available online at where visitors can avail of a 5% discount.

Tickets are also available via telephone on +44 (0)28 90 766399 or in person at the Belfast Welcome Centre on Donegall Place, Belfast, ranging from £5 for school groups through to £13.50 for adults. Discounts are available for groups, families, students and OAPs.

(With thanks to Jonathan at Stakeholder Communications)

Just one other thing - whatever you learn from the exhibition - and it looks like it will be great! - just remember THE BOAT WAS PERFECTLY FINE WHEN IT LEFT BELFAST!!!


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Talking Scot forum back up

The Scottish family history discussion forum Talking Scot is back up and running at following a couple of months of serious disruption. The site has now moved to a new server, so normal service should now be resumed.


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Ancestry: Victoria Cross and London marriage records

Two big releases from Ancestry - the London and Surrey, England, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1597-1921 and UK, Victoria Cross Medals, 1857-2007. Here's some blurb from the site:

About London and Surrey, England, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1597-1921
This database contains marriage allegations and bonds created by individuals applying for marriage licenses in parishes in the Diocese of Winchester (Surrey) and the Diocese of London, England.

Historical Background
Before civil registration began in 1837, most people in England during the timespan of these records married by banns or by license, as required by law. The process of requesting a license included providing a written allegation stating a couple’s intent to marry and asserting that there were no legal obstacles to the marriage. From 1604 until 1823, the allegation was made sure by bond. Two witnesses, one of them typically the groom, swore to the bond, which would be forfeit if the claims of the allegation proved false and a legal impediment to the marriage, such as consanguinity, arose.

Marriage allegations and bonds often exist where licenses don’t because, while the license was given to a member of the wedding party to present to the officiant at the ceremony, the allegation stayed with the authority who issued it. What Is in the Records

This database contains marriage allegations and bonds from parishes in the Diocese of Winchester (Surrey) and the Diocese of London. Marriage allegations typically listed the following details:
  • groom (name, age, marital status, occupation, parish)
  • bride (name, age, marital status, parish)
  • parish where the marriage was to take place
  • Minors might list father, mother, or guardian. Ages sometimes indicated only that the party was 21 or older.

About UK, Victoria Cross Medals, 1857-2007
This database lists names, gravesites, and other details for recipients of the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for valour “in the face of the enemy.” Since the Victoria Cross was first awarded to honor acts of valour during the Crimean War, the medal has had more than 1,350 recipients. This database provides details on all medals awarded up to the year 2007, including the results of extensive research on the final resting places of the recipients. Records typically include
  • name
  • last known rank and unit
  • location and description of deed
  • birth date
  • death date
  • place of burial (as applicable)
  • description of memorial (as applicable)

Pages include photographs for most of the medal recipients as well. When photos of the individual were not available, other related photos have been included, such as pictures of the gravesite or medal. Records are organized by the date on which the award was given rather than the date on which the meritorious action took place.

(Thanks to @ancestryUK)


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1915 Scottish Valuation Roll to go online

The 1915 valuation roll will be released at the ScotlandsPeople Centre ( and on the online ScotlandsPeople website ( later today (Wednesday 28th March). The valuation rolls were recorded annually from 1855 onwards up to 1989, and were used as the basis for taxation. Full details can be found on these at In due course ScotlandsPeople will be making available online the rolls from 1855, 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905 but will be starting today with the records from 1915 - in other words, the mid-census years. Typical information in the records includes the description and situation of each property, and the proprietor, tenant and occupier (though not the whole household). My understanding is that each record image will cost just 2 credits to view (less than 47pence).

At the Edinburgh based centre, this will be the first set of records that will allow customers to search for a place without inserting a name, so should be a useful tool for finding people. Also at the centre limited help text will be available on the search page and can be viewed by hovering the cursor over the question mark associated with the search field. The main bulk of the help text has not yet been uploaded to the centre website, however, help text will be available at the online site at

I will post further information on this once I've had a chance to play with the online version!

(With thanks to Dee Williams and Ken Nisbet)


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Scotland's Greatest Story research service and

Tuesday 27 March 2012

1921 Canadian census available in 2013

John Reid is blogging that Library and Archives Canada will be making the 1921 census available next year, from June 1st. How it does so, however, is as yet to be revealed. John's post is at which links to the archive's own blog post at This states that the census will be released "in the same format as previous censuses" - whether that means unindexed on its own site, or indexed via Ancestry or FamilySearch etc, is still to be announced.

Having discovered over the last week or so that three of my gran's hitherto unknown of first cousins all emigrated to Ontario in the early 1900s, I'll definitely be keeping an eye out on this!

(With thanks to both John and @canukgenie via Twitter) 


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Uncovering our Connemara Roots

A genealogy conference called Uncovering Our Connemara Roots is to be held at Station House Theatre, in Clifden, County Galway, from Wednesday 30th May - Friday 1st June 2012.  Speakers will include Dr Gerard Moran, Rob Goodbody, Gregory O'Connor, John Grenham, Eileen O' Duill, Simon Fowler, Dr, Irene Whelan, Marie Mannion and Kathleen Villiers-Tuthill.

The following is the provisional programme:

Wednesday 30th May 2012 
5:00pm–6:00 pm Welcome Reception Speaker: Kathleen Villiers-Tuthill (Station House Theatre)
6:00pm–7:00pm In Search of a Better Way of Life: Emigration from Connemara in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries. A talk by Dr Gerard Moran, National University of Ireland, Maynooth. (Station House Theatre)
8:00pm Gala 4 Course Dinner. Entertainment with Traditional Music and Sean-Nós Dancing. (Omey Suite, Station House Hotel)

Thursday 31st May 2012
9am–5pm Lectures – Sources: Home and Abroad (Station House Theatre)
9:00–9:45 Registration, Tea/Coffee
9:45–10:00 Welcome by Marie Mannion,Heritage Officer, Galway County Council
10:00–11:00 Rob Goodbody. Introduction to Land Records
11:00–12:00 Gregory O’Connor. National Archives Sources
12:00–12:20 Coffee Break
12:20–1:20 John Grenham – United Kingdom Sources
1:20–2:15 Lunch
2:15–3:15 Eileen O Dúill – Finding Cousins in the United States of America: Research in American Sources
3:15–4:15 Simon Fowler – Researching Ancestors who Served in the British Armed Forces
4:15–4:45 Question and Answers Open Forum
4:45 Coffee and Close

Evening Programme
8–9pm The Robert Burns of Connemara? The Life and Legacy of Micheal MacSuibhne (‘The Poet Sweeney’),1760–1820 by Dr. Irene Whelan. (Station House Hotel)

Friday 1st June 2012
10:30am–1pm The Home Experience. Exploring 7000 Years of West Connemara from Megalithic Times to the 19th Century. A coach trip of West Connemara with Michael Gibbons, local historian and archaeologist

For more information contact Irene King-Staunton (Co-ordinator), Clifden 2012 Market Street, Clifden, Co. Galway, Ireland Tel: 00353 87 9017406  Email:  Website:

(With thanks to Simon Fowler)


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Naturalisations catalogued by National Archives

The National Archives at Kew has completed a project to catalogue some 300,000 naturalisation records as held in its Home Office HO334 and HO409 collections.

For more information see


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Adding to the RootsIreland chorus

Claire Santry has posted a series of comments on the recent changes to RootsIreland at Here's a few more to add to the chorus - from tweets, emails and comments on previous posts on the subject on this blog:

I'm sorry to see them charge for formerly free searches. Lucky for me I had just done some stuff a few days ago...  Why can't the rest of Ireland - both of them, get on the ball? I don't mind paying a reasonable price, but I prefer original records. (BG blog)

I don't understand why RootsIreland don't offer a subscription service a la Ancestry, FMP etc. Pay-per-view (for a transcript rather than a facsimilie of the original document) at the price being charged is not what most of us might call good value for money. (BG blog)

I regularly read your blog & have to concur with your analysis of the new payment system at and the loss of some of the Advanced Search features. It is a retrograde step indeed. (email)

I just saw the change - I had heard about it - I had written to RootsIreland about their fees, and they said they were changing, but it wasn't publicized. Usually I get an email when they put new records on the site, but there was no email about the change. I think it will be more expensive. And it was pretty expensive as it was. I counted up what I've spent - ugh - I could have had an annual worldwide Ancestry subscription. I am at the point where I have fewer, and more complicated searches, so I think it will be a while before I try RootsIreland again. (BG blog)

I couldn't agree more with your analysis - I have a feeling the money is important to the RootsIreland people and they are out to exploit as many naive punters as possible. It is really disappointing that it is going this way. (email)

And this one from an archive...

An excellent summary on your blog of the changes at RootsIreland Chris - utterly frustrating for me as well ! Why change it ? Grrr... (Twitter)

The changes at RootsIreland are in my opinion (as a user, and nothing more) a major backward step. In my opinion, a simple price reduction would have kept everyone (well, most of us perhaps!) happy. I emailed my concerns to RootIreland last Friday but have as yet to receive a response.

If you are unhappy with the changes, please do vent your comments on this blog in the comments section below, to Claire Santry at her Irish Genealogy News blog (see above), and to every forum and genealogy magazine that you think might be interested.

But please, above all, make your opinions known to RootsIreland itself, which can be emailed at

Making your voice heard may well be the only way that this regressive step can be potentially undone.

In the meantime, there is one other issue, the monopoly of access to the records. There is absolutely a case for competition here, whether through internet giants such as FindmyPast Ireland or Ancestry, or even the governments north and south - the government backed Irish Genealogy at is a wonderful initiative, for example, adding free to access records for Dublin City, Carlow, Cork and Kerry. The National Library of Ireland had contemplated digitising its Roman Catholic records and placing them online for free, though this seems to have stalled. I don't necessarily suggest records need to be free - but they need to be affordable and they need to be accessible in a fully searchable format.

Until competition is introduced we may continue to be held hostage to our own heritage through high pricing by those we hoped would help us to gain access to it.


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Westminster parish records online

News from FindmyPast ( that will be of interest to those with connections to Westminster:

  • Over a million baptism, marriage and burial records dating back to 1538 now available
  • First time that images of the original parish records from Westminster go online

Leading UK family history website has today published online for the very first time parish records held by the City of Westminster Archives Centre. The Westminster Collection at comprises fully searchable transcripts and scanned images of the parish registers, some of which are over 400 years old.

The 1,365,731 records launched today cover the period 1538-1945 and come from over 50 Westminster churches including St Anne, Soho, St Clement Danes, St George Hanover Square, St James Westminster, St Margaret Westminster, St Martin-in-the-Fields, St Mary-le-Strand, St Paul Covent Garden.

Debra Chatfield, family historian at, said: "The Westminster Collection is one of the largest regional parish record collections we have ever published online and contains some truly wonderful gems. Family historians, wherever they are in the world, can now search this historical goldmine and uncover the fascinating stories of their London ancestors."

Today's launch marks the start of a painstaking project to preserve digitally the City of Westminster Archives Centre's collection, and sees the first tranche of its baptisms, marriages and burials go online. The remaining records are set to go live over the coming months, along with cemetery registers, wills, rate books, settlement examinations, workhouse admission and discharge books, bastardy, orphan and apprentice records, charity documents, and militia and watch records.

Adrian Autton, Archives Manager at Westminster Archives commented: "The launch of the Westminster Collection is of huge significance making Westminster records fully accessible to a global audience. This resource will be of immense value to anyone whose ancestors lived in Westminster and to anyone wishing to study the rich heritage of this truly great city."

The records can now be searched free of charge by visiting the Life Events (BMDs) section at, and then selecting parish baptisms or marriages or burials. Transcripts and images can be viewed with PayAsYouGo credits, vouchers or a full subscription to

The new Westminster Collection at joins a growing resource of official parish records from local archives, including Cheshire Archives & Local Studies, Manchester City Council and Plymouth and West Devon Records Office, with many more in the pipeline and due to go live in the coming months. In addition over 40 million parish records from family history societies can be found at in partnership with the Federation of Family History Societies.

(With thanks to Debra at FindmyPast)


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Chester records on Deceased Online

Over 70,000 records for historic Overleigh Cemetery added to Deceased Online (

Approximately 72,000 burial records for the older section of Overleigh Cemetery in the ancient northern English City of Chester have been added to the Deceased Online database.
  • The records date from 1850 to 1953; records for 1953 to October 2011, the Overleigh ‘New’ Cemetery, are already on
  • The records comprise burial register scans and grave details; maps indicating grave locations will be added in the near future.
  • Overleigh Cemetery contains many historically interesting burials and beautiful memorials such as the celebrated ‘Queen of the Gypsies’, Mary Finney, and her husband Guilderoy Finney.
  • The Cemetery also has many records featuring Irish names so will be of interest to the Irish diaspora.
  • The total dataset for the council area, Cheshire West and Chester, now comprises over 200,000 burial and cremation records.
  • For further details, see the ‘database coverage’ section at

(With thanks to Richard at Deceased Online)


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Monday 26 March 2012

Colonial administration records to be released

The National Archives will begin to release Foreign and Commonwealth Office colonial administration records for Aden, Anguilla, Bahamas, Basutoland, Bechuanaland, British Indian Ocean Territories, Brunei, Cyprus, Kenya, Malaya, Sarawak and Seychelles on Wednesday 18th April 2012. The record will not be online, but available in the reading rooms, although a user guide will be made available on the website. There will also be two tie-in talks on the day at the archive.

The full story is at Further information on the records set is also available at

(With thanks to @UKNatArchives)


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Hampshire Family History Centre

There's an update on the holdings now available at Hampshire Genealogical Society's Research Centre in Cosham, which can be read online at The centre moved to new premises last September.


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Sunday 25 March 2012

Tunbridge Wells FHS - website problems

Roger Lewry from the Federation of Family History Societies ( has just issued an advisory that Tunbridge Wells Family History Society is currently having website problems with its site at - in the meantime, if you wish to contact the society, drop a note to the secretary at

(With thanks to Roger)


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Scottish sasine and servants taxes to go online this year

I've just been listening to Tristram Clarke's lecture from Who Do You Think You Are Live, and there a few wee nuggets of fothcoming online releases included.

He first touches on the Scottish valuation roll for 1915-16 which is due to go online at ScotlandsPeople ( imminently - I've been in touch with one of the beta testers, and have some idea of what is planned, although as changes are still being implemented to the format for these, including the pricing model, I will wait until it formally happens to announce more on this. However, these are a very useful resource following the 1911 censuses, listing the valuation of property for taxation purposes, with the heads of the household and the relevant superiors, and they will be released for every tenth year going back to their start in 1855-56.

I knew about the above, but two new announcements I've just picked up on from the lecture. Tristram has mentioned that servants taxes are to be released on ScotlandsPlaces ( later this year. At present the site has free access to Horse and Farm Horse tax, and Clock and Watch tax, from 1797-98. The servants taxes in question are as follows: E326/5 Male Servants tax (1777-98), and E326/6 Female Servants tax (1785-1792). The year range to be made available is not known (though I suspect it will be for a single year again), but nevertheless a great resource when it comes. The NRS website lists the tax as folllows: for male tax, this was "Imposed on certain categories of employed or retained manservants. Names of masters or mistresses, names of servants, sometimes their jobs"; for the female tax "Names of masters or mistresses, names of servants, sometimes their jobs".

Of greater significance though - and this is a biggy - is news that Scottish sasine records are to go online for the post-1780 period later this year. The abridgements have already been digitised and can be consulted in the Historic Search Room at present. The abridgements list the basic details for all property and land exchanges in Scotland, and are a unique set of records with no equivalent in the rest of the British Isles. Tristram has stated that he believes the records may be made available as part of a new subscription based component to be introduced to the ScotlandsPeople site (but only for certain categories of records e.g. kirk session material, also due to goon the site at some stage), but this is all still to be worked out.

The lecture is online at - lots to look out for!

(With thanks to Tristram)


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Call to save Roman Catholic heritage in Scotland

Thanks to genie Chris Halliday (@scotsgen) for tweeting that the Scotsman newspaper has today published a call from several leading academics to stop the Roman Catholic church in Scotland disposing of some of its archive collection to raise a bit of cash for a new centralised heaquarters building.

I blogged about the story previously at, following the ordering of a valuation by Archbishop Mario Conti, president of the Scottish Catholic Heritage Commission, to see what they could raise if they went for it. The original announcement prompted a response from Tom Devine (academic royalty in Scotland!), describing the move as "asset stripping". The Scotsman's article today is at


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Durham records update

The latest releases on Durham Records Online (

South Shields baptisms 1763-1797
8,689 baptisms at South Shields St. Hilda, covering 1763-1797. These are mostly from the Bishop’s Transcript, with short gaps filled in from the parish register and lots of checking against the parish register. Mar 1768-Mar 1770 is entirely from the register. Interestingly, there were several cases where the Bishop’s Transcript gave more information than the original register; some of these are shown below. There were also a few discrepancies, which we have noted.

Hartlepool Old Cemetery (Spion Kop) burials 1856-1869
3,775 burials at Hartlepool Old Cemetery, also known as Borough Cemetery, Hart Warren, and Spion Kop), from the cemetery opening in 1856 to the end of 1869.
Because these are municipal cemetery records rather than church burial records, they present many more genealogically useful details. Many of these burial provide the occupation of the deceased, or a parent or spouse and their occupations. Some give information about how or where the person died. Unfortunately, many of the names of parents or spouses were truncated to initials by the cemetery clerk.

Marriage bonds 1760-1764 updated with full details
Replaced the index to marriage bonds in the years 1760-1764 with full details, so those 1,886 records are now instantly available, including 1 new bond that we missed the first time around and 6 bonds from 1759 whose details didn’t get added in our last update because they were in the 1760 bundle.

Coming in April:
  • Aycliffe baptisms & burials 1813-1877
  • amendments to Robinson's Lane baptisms 1727-1797
  • Auckland St. Andrew baptisms & burials 1820-1851
  • Penshaw baptisms & burials 1831-1835
  • South Shields burials 1763-1797
  • Bishop Auckland Wesleyan Methodist Circuit baptisms 1838-1962
(With thanks to Holly Cochran)


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Family Historian 5 to be released

Get it while it's hot!

Popular software programme Family Historian is released in a new version 5 tomorrow, and can be purchased via My History ( For the new features on the programme see

I have a lot of time for this programme, which I use to record my own family tree. I will be interested to see what version 5 can do!


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Rix Family Open Day in Norfolk

The Rix Family History Alliance is hosting a family open day for anyone bearing the surname Rix (or with an interest in the name), on Saturday 23rd June in Wymondham, Norfolk.  For further information visit


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Saturday 24 March 2012

Further talks released on WDYTYA Live website

Two more talks are now available on the Who Do You Think You Are Live website:
  • Rosalind McCutcheon, Early Irish Marriages (recorded Sunday 26th Feb in the SoG Regional Studio.) 
  • Tristram Clarke, Resources offered by the National Records of Scotland (recorded Friday 24th Feb in the SoG Regional Studio)


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Friday 23 March 2012

Bradford Central Library could open in summer

Bradford Central Library could reopen in the summer if it receives £2 million from councillors next week for essential renovation work. The property was closed last year, except for the ground and first floors, after the extraordinary discovery that it's central stair case was a fire risk. One of the groups forced out by the closure was Bradford FHS.

The full story is at

(With thanks to Kathryn Hughes, @Bradfordww1 on Twitter)


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Guest post - Women in India

I mentioned a few days ago that London based genealogist Emma Jolly has just had her new Tracing Your British Indian Ancestors book published by Pen and Sword. I am currently about a third of the way through the book, enjoying it immensely and looking forward tonight to reading about the various military and EIC regiments in India in Chapter 5 (particularly as one of my ancestors makes a guest appearance!). One of the key things about the book is the sense of the society that existed in all spheres of influence within the country. Emma's kindly agreed to do a second guest post for this blog (her previous Scottish GENES post is available here), and this time she takes a look at the women of India. Enjoy!

Recently I have written a guide for those tracing their British and Anglo-Indian ancestors in India. While researching the book, I read a number of fascinating and revealing accounts of life in India written by Britons and Anglo-Indians. Some of those writers are very well-known. Rudyard Kipling, for example, needs no introduction.

However, other authors may not be familiar. Despite this, their words deserve to be read as they provide a unique insight into lives led in India during almost four hundred years of British influence and rule.

Amongst my favourite works are the memoirs of women who lived in India, including and Julia Charlotte Maitland (1808-1864) and Maud Diver (1867-1945). Female writers tended to include greater detail on social life, food, medicine, and matters relating to children. All these are particularly evident in the letters of the gossipy Eliza Fay (1756-1816) (see post at

One woman writer remains anonymous. “A lady resident” published her guide for fellow women in the sub-continent, The Englishwoman in India: information for ladies on their outfit, furniture [&c.] . . . in 1864, just a few years after the demise of the East India Company and the creation of the India Office.

Like me, the lady resident was a keen fan of curry. Food is covered in detail in the book, and she includes delicious-sounding recipes, like this one for “Mint Chutnee”:

½ lb. green mint leaves.
1 ounce red chillies
¼ lb. salt.
¼ lb. raisins or kismis.
2 ounces green ginger.
¼ 1lb. brown sugar.
1 ounce garlic or onion

Pound with a quarter pint of vinegar, mix well
and pour over the chutnees half a pint of boiling
vinegar: when cold, stopper the bottles.
N.B. Country vinegar answers perfectly for most chutnees.

Although the lady resident is happy for children to eat spicy food, she warns of avoiding “tamarinds and cocoa-nut in the amah’s curry” whilst the amah (ayah) or wet-nurse is feeding a British infant. In order to ensure the amah’s comfort and to encourage the flow of her milk, the resident advises “a warm bath, with soap-nuts, and oil for her hair at least once a week”.

Some of her advice seems odd when compared with historical data. Her belief that, “In many respects, India is a more healthy country for very young children than England” is not supported by details in burial registers. She moderates the comment by saying that she is not referring to “the children of European soldiers, among whom, from many causes, the mortality is fearful; but among the upper classes, where there is no exposure to the sun, and proper food and accommodation . . .”

The contrast between the lives of upper and working class Britons in India is apparent here and in other primary texts. Too often the British in India are lumped together. Yet close research reveals a number of strata in work and society. The more I research the British in India, the greater I find the differences in lifestyle between the classes.

More experiences of women in India can be found in excellent collections of memoirs, diaries and letters in UK archives, such as those in European Manuscripts (MSS Eur) at the British Library and at the Centre of South Asian Studies, Cambridge.

The Englishwoman in India: information for ladies on their outfit, furniture [&c.] . ., and Julia Charlotte Maitland’s Letters from Madras: during the years 1838-1839 can be read in full at The Original Letters from India of Mrs Eliza Fay can be read at

Emma Jolly runs the London based Genealogic research service (, with her particular interests in London and British India. In 2008 she was awarded Your Family Tree magazine's Beginner Book of the Year Award for her first book, Family History for Kids. Emma writes regularly for family history publications. Her latest book Tracing Your British Indian Ancestors was published by Pen & Sword in March 2012. Further details can be found at:

More on RootsIreland

Many thanks to the readers who have been in touch since the announcement on RootsIreland's changes (see - already one person giving a talk in the USA tomorrow about Irish research for beginners is having to re-jig his presentation on the back of it!

However, another comment from reader Robert Forrest in Northern Ireland is also worth airing concerning the site. Not only does Bobby wholeheartedly agree with my analysis on the changes, he has also raised another issue. With his permission, the following comes from his email to me:

"There is also a problem with payment methods as the site does not accept Maestro Card. As I do not have a credit card I cannot purchase credits. I emailed them yesterday & got the following response:

"Dear Mr. Forrest. We do not accept payments from debit cards outside the Republic of Ireland due to the bank charges etc. it would involve. We would have to set up bank accounts in sterling and so on. We are not in a position to fund that at this time. The UHF (Ulster Historic Foundation - Chris) is a company registered in the north of Ireland where the currency is sterling. However, we do take your point on board. But a credit card is the most secure way to purchase online. In relation to charging for our index we have researched this step extensively and taken on board the view of many of our users since late 2007 that the Scotland's People model was the way to go. There are now reduced charges per view of a record's details of you bulk buy. Yours sincerely, Customer Support Team"

"I am so disappointed to be palmed off like this - most sites accept Maestro debit card for payments so the RootsIreland people are losing out on my custom"

Thanks to Bobby for this. I must admit that I am not sure why RootsIreland is saying it cannot accept debit cards, as I use Visa Debit to make purchases, unless this is set up in a different way to Maestro. As a Natwest user, with an account in Bristol, England, Maestro was replaced by Visa Debit some time ago as the debit tool on my card.

With regards to the main development, I have now emailed RootsIreland to express my concerns, citing examples as quoted in my previous blog post. Last weekend I spent about 80 Euros on the site to progress two Donegal lines in my tree, and was thoroughly satisfied with the results. In fact, it is hard to believe that just a few months ago the site had a temporary month long sale with major reductions on pricing - tragically I missed out as I was overseas at the time! Quite how the progress from that offer to the modern set up has emerged is well and truly beyond me, but I suspect I'll be holding back for a bit now before any future purchases.

I can say for definite though, this may be inspired by the "Scotland's People model", but this is not the same set up as ScotlandsPeople! Records on that site cost about £1.40 including the search fee, and that is to see the original digitised image, not a transcript. The exception on ScotlandsPeople is the option to see a transcript of the 1881 census, rather than the image, which will cost just 47 pence for the search and the transcript view. Clearly the inspiration from Scotland only went so far...

UPDATE: If you're unhappy with the changes, let the team at RootsIreland know what you think by emailing them at


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Origins and NWI updates

The Origins site ( has a couple of announcements this month.

Kent Probate Indexes 1508-1894 are appearing on the National Wills Index this year, with the first batch to be launched including 13,413 wills from the Archdeaconry and Consistory Courts of Rochester and 27,812 surviving paper inventories of Kent testators.

Middlesex & London Burials 1538-1904 have been added to British Origins, including over 116,000 burials in Middlesex and the City of London.

Further information is available on both stories at


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Worcestershire History Centre to move

Thanks to Beryl Evans of the Federation of Family History Societies ( and Vicky Fletcher of Worcestershire Record Office ( for the following:

"In January Worcestershire Record Office combined with Worcestershire Historic Environment and Archaeology Service to become a new joint service – Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service. We are moving into a new building – The Hive – which will enable us to provide a wider range of resources to our users as a new joined-up service. The Hive will open to the public in July 2012. This will be a very exciting move for us, as it means Worcestershire's archive resources will be held together in one building for the first time.

"Please be aware that Worcestershire History Centre, at Trinity Street, Worcester, will be closing to the public on Saturday 21st April 2012 in order to prepare for this move. After 21st April, our contact number of 01905 765922 will carry over to The Hive, so please do continue to contact us on this number and pass it on to the general public. The address of The Hive is as follows: The Hive, Sawmill Walk, The Butts, Worcester, WR1 3PB"


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Thursday 22 March 2012

RootsIreland makes search and payment changes

What the left hand giveth, the right hand taketh away...?

Roots Ireland has implemented a new payment system on its site at and apparently reduced the charge for its searches. However, almost as if to compensate, it has also reduced some of the functionality of the site, including at least one major change that will really affect how we control our searches.

In the past the site charged a €5 fee per record transcription, though it did introduce a welcome discount scheme if you were seeking to purchase multiple baptismal records for a couple's children. A single baptism record could cost €5, but 15 baptisms could cost just €30, effectively just €2 each.

The site also operated two search systems - Standard Search and Advanced Search for most counties. Standard Search was, to be completely frank, next to useless - it had very few filters (e.g. mother's maiden name) to help control a search. Advanced Search, by contrast, offered everything you could hope for in a database - not only filters to allow for mother's maiden name, spouse's name etc, but also the ability to narrow down by parish and religious denomination. Most importantly, it allowed you to do a parent search at the parish level, by inputting the names of two parents, and the parish and denomination, and seeing who popped up as born to that couple. For reasons best known to themselves however, counties Sligo and Limerick never signed up to the Advanced Search facility, and so those two counties continued to be difficult to use in any meaningful way.

The site has now had a rethink and basically introduced a new credits based payment system based it would seem on the ScotlandsPeople model. In fact, at first glance it appears to go one better - unlike ScotlandsPeople you can actually get a discount for the bulk purchase of credits. Except all is not quite what it seems...

The new pricing structure is described as follows:

€5.00 - (35 Credits)
€10.00 - (73 Credits) - Bulk Saving
€18.00 - (150 Credits) - Bulk Saving
€32.00 - (320 Credits) - Bulk Saving
€60.00 - (750 Credits) - Bulk Saving

If I do a search for one record, it will cost 10 cents to see the index result(s) from the search, or 1 credit, and to view the record then costs 25 credits. So if I pay €5 for 35 credits, if I have got this right I will end up using 26 credits - 1 to view the index, and 25 to see the record. I then have 9 credits now sitting there doing nothing. Obviously they can be carried over on my account if I have more searches to do, but redundant if I have not, in which case, there's no benefit or loss compared to the old set-up. It's still a fiver. For the other options, the maths gets bewildering.

To see 2 images - I need to pay for 2 record searches (if different events), so 2 credits to see the search results, and 50 credits to see the 2 images = 52 credits. If approaching the site for the first time, to do this I have to pay for 73 credits at €10. So I now have 21 credits left over, sitting there looking at me if I have no more searches to do, and again, the new system provides no benefit or loss. It's still a tenner, for two unrelated events - but there's a caveat, which I'll come to shortly.

If I want to see 3 images for 3 unrelated events, that's a possible 3 credits for different search results to see the indexes, and then 75 credits to see the 3 images = 78 credits. I can do this by buying €15 worth of credits - €5 (35 credits) and €10 (73 credits) = 108 credits, enough for the search, with 30 credits left over allowing me to do one more search. So a possible benefit here.

Except, not necessarily.

On the old system, if I wanted to do a search for children born to a couple, there was a range of discounts if more than one child was returned in a search. One child's record cost €5, but 2 would cost just €8. Now it costs €10 for 2 records, as each costs 25 credits to view, so I'll need 51 credits (including index page at 1 credit), and only €10 allows me enough credits to do so, if approaching the site for the first time. So I'm actually paying €2 more with the new set-up, if this is all I have to do.

Three to four records in the old discount scheme used to cost €12, five to ten was €20, and eleven to fifteen was just €30.  If I do a child search now, and find 15 children to a couple, it will cost 2 credits for the index returns list of kids to appear (2 pages, 10 entries on the 1st, 5 on the second), and then 15 x 25 credits to see the actual records - so 375 credits +2 credits for the searches = 377 credits. Which means if I come to the site for the first time, the cheapest way I can see to do this is to buy €42 worth of credits - €10 for 73 credits and €32 for 320 credits, giving me a total of 393 credits (so 16 left over). If this is the only time I want to use the site, this will now cost €42, whereas it used to be just €30 to see that number of records for 15 siblings. Obviously if I have more to do it could be cheaper to pay for €60 worth of credits, and make savings in the long run. But only if I have more to do, and I may not!

It gets worse though.

In the old set up, on Advanced Search I could control a parent search at parish or registration district level. This is no longer possible. If you input the parents' names now to see what children they had, and select a parish, it now asks you to also put in a child's name! You can do a parent search without the child's name - but only on a county wide basis. So if you are looking for the children of a William and Mary Smith in County Antrim, you'd better think about re-mortgaging your house to pay for it. So the new search tool is more advanced than the old Standard search - but more restrictive than the old Advanced search. It appears to be a regressed half way measure.

I may well have got this wrong, but the site itself says very little, bar the following:

From 22nd March 2012: The Online Research System is now using a credit system. All user balances have been upgraded to the new credit system automatically. There has been a reduction in the cost of a single record from €5.00 to as low as €2.50, depending on the amount of credits purchased. However, all users will be charged 1 credit for a page of 10 index search results at 00.10 cent (EURO) per page. Every user will be given 10 free searches to familiarize themselves with the system.

If I haven't got this wrong, though, this could be cheaper for long term users willing to bulk buy credits but potentially much more expensive for casual look ups if you don't use the site often. The site also now appears to offer less control to do the searches I wish to perform. If so, this is a backward step for what promised to be such a great improvement.

Still, Sligo and Limerick seem to be on board with the new set up, so the site is at last consistent for every county.

UPDATE: If you're unhappy with the changes, let the team at RootsIreland know what you think by emailing them at


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MyHeritage to offer 1940 US census

MyHeritage ( is joining the race to get the US 1940 census online!

Explore the 1940 U.S. Census on MyHeritage with free, easy and automatic discoveries

World’s largest family network pledges to make the 1940 U.S. Census available for free in 38 languages, searchable even on-the-go via mobile, with automatic matching to family trees

PROVO, Utah & LONDON & TEL AVIV, Israel – March 22, 2012: MyHeritage, the most popular family network on the web, today announced it will be offering the images and a searchable name index of the 1940 U.S. Federal Census completely free of charge, starting April 2 2012. Using sophisticated technology that automatically matches names, facts and relationships in the census to family tree data, MyHeritage will provide an easy and exciting way for families to explore their American heritage. Supporting 38 languages, MyHeritage will enable family history lovers not only in the US, but all over the world, to discover more about the lives of their American relatives during this transformative period in history.

More than 3.8 million images and 132 million records of the 1940 U.S. Census will be made available on where they will be searchable by multiple criteria on MyHeritage SuperSearch™, the industry’s fastest and most powerful family history search engine to be released by MyHeritage in April 2012. MyHeritage will also provide the 1940 U.S. Census for free on the other leading family history sites it owns at and In addition, users will be able to search the 1940 U.S. Census on-the-go with a new version of the MyHeritage Mobile App for iPhone, iPad and Android, to be launched in the first week of April.

As the largest and most recent U.S. census to be made publicly available, the 1940 Census opens a window into the lives of the generation that survived the Great Depression and lived through the Second World War, described as the Greatest Generation. Family historians will be able to use the 1940 Census to learn more about their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and other close relatives.

As an independent provider of the 1940 U.S. Federal Census, MyHeritage will be releasing its own version of the index in high transcription quality, adding value by publishing data from states not yet available elsewhere. To facilitate discoveries in the easiest and quickest way, MyHeritage will automatically match the 1940 Census records as they are being added, with the millions of family trees built by users on MyHeritage, notifying them about relevant results and eliminating the need for time-consuming and repeated manual searches. This is especially helpful given that the 1940 Census records will be added gradually, so users won’t need to revisit the census and search again as new content is added and can look forward to an ongoing stream of effortless discoveries, for free.

“The release of the 1940 U.S. Census will undoubtedly be a significant milestone for the family history industry” said MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet. “With such an event occurring only once a decade, and as the largest and most comprehensive U.S. census ever to be released, the 1940 Census has deep emotional interest and revealing information in store for a great number of people. With the anticipated debut of our new and incredibly powerful SuperSearch™ engine, our new technology for matching historical records to family trees and our free offering of previously unpublished census data, MyHeritage will be taking the exploration of family history and American heritage to exciting new heights.”

The images of the 1940 U.S. Census will be released by the National Archives and Records Administration on April 2, 2012, following a 72 year privacy protection period. MyHeritage will then make all images immediately available to the public and begin the gradual process of transcribing them and making the index searchable, pledging a 98% or higher degree of accuracy.

Census information includes detailed family information, such as names, ages, addresses, occupation, race, marital status, birthplace, citizenship, home ownership and the relationship of each person in the household. Several new and interesting questions appear in the 1940 U.S. Census for the first time identifying where the individual was living five years before (in 1935), information about wages and also educational attainment. Five percent of the population was asked supplementary questions including birthplace of parents, native language, usual occupation, and for women only – whether they’d been married more than once, how old they were when they were first married and the number of children they gave birth to.

With more than 62 million registered users, 22 million family trees and close to 1 billion profiles, MyHeritage has become the trusted home on the web for families wishing to explore their family history, share memories and stay connected. MyHeritage made a significant move into the historical content market in November 2011 with the acquisition of FamilyLink Inc. in Provo, Utah, obtaining billions of historical records through its website These records together with the family trees form the basis of MyHeritage SuperSearch™, on which the 1940 Census will be added.

(With thanks to Laurence Harris at MyHeritage)


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Europeana WW1 roadshow in Dublin

The National Library of Ireland was yesterday the host to Europeana's latest stop on its First World War digitisation roadshow (see

Over 600 visitors - three times the number that turned up in Preston for the English leg - brought mementoes and stories to share for the project. RTE has a story online showcasing one of them - a helmet that was damaged by shrapnel but which saved a soldier's life at the Somme. To view the story visit thanks to @irishrootsmag on Twitter)

The Irish Independent has more coverage at


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Scotland's Greatest Story research service and

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Scottish Genealogy Society news

Several items of news from the Scottish Genealogy Society ( in Edinburgh:

Next meeting
Our next meeting will take place on Monday, 26 March. The talk will be given by Elaine MacGregor about the Families in British India Society (FIBIS). As always, the talk will start at 7.30pm in Augustine United Church Centre, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh. Members are free to this event but if anyone has friends who would like to come along, there is a small charge of £2 for non-members.

ScotlandsPeople Vouchers
We are pleased to say that we now have these available each day for selling over the counter to Members at Victoria Terrace. Our Sales Team will however continue to post out vouchers for those who cannot come in. The current price is £5.70 per voucher. (NB: These are discount vouchers which can also be purchased at certain libraries in Scotland - Chris)

New Publications
Our latest publication - Berwickshire Miscellany - has just been published this week. Transcribed by Mr Russell Cockburn from Kirk Session Records held at the National Records of Scotland, it includes: Ayton Register of Certificates for Communion 1829-1848 (all indexed), Ayton Register of Communion Certificates Received 1830-1839, Chirnside Male Head of Families in Communion 1834-1837 and Chirnside Register of Interments 1817-1841. This publication (and other recent similar books) is a great source of information, helping to keep track of people's movements from one parish to another both before and in between the recorded censuses. Priced at £4.50, it is available from our website: or call 0131 220 3677.

Midlothian Archives
For those with family connections in Midlothian, the Council there have produced a new guide to their archive collection. The guide will be launched at a free event at Dalkeith Arts Centre on Saturday, 24 March, starting at 10am. There will also be a short talk about the collection - which holds items such as school logbooks, valuation rolls and family & estate papers (some dating from the 1700s). Refreshments will also be available.

SAFHS Conference 2012
A reminder that the 23rd Annual Conference of the Scottish Association of Family History Societies will take place on Saturday 21 April. This year's event will be hosted jointly by Tay Valley Family History Society and Fife Family History Society, and will be held within the University of Dundee complex. The theme for the Conference will be "Crops, Cloth, Cod 'n' Coal", and it will be held in the D'Arcy Thomson Lecture Theatre in the tower Block of the Dundee University. The Book Fair will be in the Bonar Halls, Dundee University. For further information, please contact SAFHS ( or either of the host societies.

May Meeting
There are still places available for our outing on Saturday, 26 May which this year is a visit to The Peace Garden at St John's Church, Princes Street, with a guided tour given by Mr Angus Mitchell. However, numbers are limited so booking is essential.

In addition to the talk next Monday, FIBIS have also arranged to have a 'Hit a Brick Wall' Workshop and Seminar on the British in India on Saturday, 31 March, and this will take place in the Kinross Museum (situated at the Loch Leven Community Campus, Kinross, KY13 8FQ). This is restricted to 25 delegates, so booking is essential. The programme is as follows:

10.00-12.00 - 'Hit a brick wall' surgery
12.00-12.45 - Lunch break and general discussions
12.45- 1.00 - Introduction by Professor David M Munro, MBE - Chairman, Kinross (Marshall) Museum Trust, about their holdings
1.00-1.30 - PowerPoint presentation by Graham Holton from the University of Strathclyde
1.30.-2.00 - PowerPoint presentation by Caroline Brown from the University of Dundee
2.00-2.15 - Break
2.15-2.45 - PowerPoint presentation by Peter Bailey, FIBIS Chairman, on the Scots in India
2.45-3.00 - Q&A

There is no charge for the actual workshop and seminar, but delegates may be asked to donate a small amount to the Kinross Museum for hosting the event. There is apparently plenty of parking and a sandwich bar and coffee machines in the foyer, or delegates can bring their own packed lunch. If anyone wishes to attend, please contact Elaine MacGregor of FIBIS (e-mail: Also, Cheryl Lindsay (a FIBIS member) is coming from East Lothian and has kindly offered to pick up anyone (max of 3) en route - please let them know if you wish to be considered for this. 

(With thanks to Ken Nisbet)


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