British Newspaper Archive September additions

The British Newspaper Archive now has a total of 45,139,078 pages online (44,623,834 last month).

This month 118 papers had pages added (110 in the previous month). There were 67 (44) new titles. Dates range from 1767 to 1994

Those with more than 10,000 pages added were:

Faversham News 1900, 1904, 1936-1949, 1951-1980
Daily News (London) 1922-1938, 1940-1949, 1951-1954, 1957-1960
Cornish Post and Mining News 1889-1895, 1898-1899, 1919-1944
Bury Free Press 1988, 1993-1994
Newark Advertiser 1910, 1912, 1987-1990
Croydon Times 1861-1870, 1875-1878, 1880-1884, 1891-1899, 1901-1909, 1912-1918, 1920-1950, 1952-1961
Australian and New Zealand Gazette 1850-1882
Lynn News & County Press 1871-1873, 1875-1889, 1891-1892, 1913, 1915, 1918, 1924, 1938-1939, 1942

For the Beginner: Free Family History Library Webinars for October

FamilySearch continues to cater to researchers with presentations each Tuesday and Thirsday advertized as at the beginner level. Find information on those sessions at

They are far from the only game in town. Many Societies have volunteers who are pleased to initiate people into genealogy’s magic arts.  Some societies and  commercial genealogical organizations. have a library of past presentations. 

And there are other resources at the beginner and intermediate level at

Don’t overlook your local public library, many of which have genealogy expertise on staff.

For more material, much more in-depth, try the over 1,000 free, on-demand sessions from RootsTech Connect 2021 at

Virtual visits to the archives

The pandemic meant no access to archival resources in many institutions. This brought a halt to research as the vast majority of materials in archives is still in the original format. More is on microfilm, but much of that is only accessible within the institution.

There was/is an initiative from some of the more progressive institutions, mainly UK with a few from other countries, but none from Canada, seeking a technological solution to maintaining access. Research Libraries UK recently produced a report, New Frontiers of Digital Access: The development and delivery of Virtual Reading Rooms and Virtual Teaching Spaces amongst collection-holding institutions from which part of the summary and conclusions section is reproduced below.

“Virtual Reading Rooms and Virtual Teaching Spaces are emerging services which have largely grown out of the coronavirus pandemic. Although a pragmatic response to the closure, or partial closure, of buildings during various local, regional, and national lockdowns, VRRs have become established as bespoke research services and VTSs as valuable routes through which archives, special collections, museums and galleries can engage with diverse groups through virtual learning sessions.

Both VRRs and VTSs benefit from relatively low technological thresholds and the majority of institutions have created these services utilising affordable hardware, readily available software, and pre-existing spaces. The establishment and growth of VRR and VTS services have benefited from the fact that onsite services (as of June 2021) are still operating at below ‘normal’ pre-pandemic levels. The ultimate scalability and sustainability of these services will only become apparent as onsite services return to a degree of normality. The growing number of such services, their creation outside of periods of lockdown, their application to a greater variety of collection types, and diversification of their user base, would suggest that VRRs and VTSs will continue to develop as valuable research and teaching services into the future.

Staff time and expertise are the largest attributable resource required for the delivery of VRR and VTS services. The success of these services depend much on the skills and expertise of staff, particularly their familiarity with the collection and ability to work closely with researchers. As a result, these services offer many opportunities to showcase the knowledge, skills, and expertise of library staff, and the valuable contribution that they can make to the research process, both as service providers and research partners. They also present opportunities for combining collections held at multiple institutions virtually (both nationally and internationally), without the requirement of digitisation, and offer new collaborative opportunities between researchers and institutions.”

The report notes such remote access is also a means by which institutions can address the climate emergency

“the seriousness of the climate emergency will also question the viability and ethical basis of international travel. These factors combined mean that research libraries, archives and special collections, and museums and galleries, need, as a community, to collectively consider alternative means of collection access through which original research can be conducted.”


Live births in Canada

Statistics Canada released preliminary data for births in Canada, except Yukon, on Tuesday.

In 2020, there were 358,604 live births in Canada, excluding Yukon. There were 13,434 fewer births in 2020 than in 2019 (372,038), the greatest year-over-year decrease (3.6%) and the lowest number of births in any year since 2006. The decline from 2019 to 2020 was observed in every province and territory in Canada.

December 2020 had the lowest monthly total in the last five years, While it’s tempting to attribute the low number to social distancing, it may in part be the result of incomplete data from Manitoba.

Similar to previous years, the proportion of boys (51.4%) was slightly higher than the proportion of girls (48.6%).
During the pandemic, a small but increasing proportion of births are occurring outside hospitals.

FreeBMD’s 2nd September update

The FreeBMD Database was updated on Friday 24 September 2021 to contain 281,999,667 unique entries, increased from 281,699,329 at the previous update.

Years with changes of more than 10,000 records since the last update are: for births 1886-87, 1990-91; for marriages 1986-91; for deaths 1988-90.

This Week’s Online Genealogy Events

Choose from free online events in the next five days. All times are ET except as noted. Those in red are Canadian, bolded if local to Ottawa or recommended

Assume registration in advance is required; check so you’re not disappointed.

Tuesday 28 Sept is British Home Child Day (Canada)


Tuesday 28 Sept, 2 pm: Virtual Genealogy Drop-In, from Ottawa Branch of OGS and The Ottawa Public Library.

Tuesday 28 Sept, 2 pm: The new and improved Legacy Family Tree Webinars website, by Geoff Rasmussen for Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Tuesday 28 Sept, 2:30 pm: Creating Your Family Photo Archive, by Elizabeth Hodges for Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center.

Tuesday 28 Sept, 7:00 pm: A Vision for Ontario Ancestors, Ontario Genealogical Society, by Heather McTavish Taylor for Wellington County Branch OGS.

Wednesday 29 Sept, 11 am: North American Q&A with Jen Baldwin for Findmypast.

Wednesday 29 Sept, 2 pm: Beginning Ukrainian Genealogy, by Michelle Chubenko for Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Thursday 30 Sept, 6:30 pm: Finding Ancestors Without Going in Circles: – The WANDER Research Method, by Amy Johnson Crow for Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center.

Friday 1 Oct, 2pm: Born a Slave: Rediscovering Arthur Jackson’s African American Heritage, by David W. Jackson for Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

QFHS Fall Seminar: live and in person!

Saturday, 2 October
Fall Seminar At The Heritage Centre  (Seminars)
153 Rue Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, (Simon Fraser House)

Everyone welcome. PLEASE BRING A MASK!
Cost: $25. Payment options – online (click here) or by cheque (click here for address).
Your payment will be your reservation.  Space for this seminar is limited.
The Presentations:

10:00 to 11:00 – Ancestry: how to use most effectively all the wonderful databases on the largest commercial genealogical website in the world. With Gary Schoder
11:00 to 12:00 – “Dit” names in Quebec: why are French Canadians known sometimes by two different surnames? With Dr. Luc Lepine
1:00 pm to 2:00 pm –  Genealogy Quebec: how to use the most important website for Quebec genealogical research. With Gary Schoder
2:00 pm to 3:00 pm – Seigneurial Records in Quebec: if your ancestors lived in Quebec from the 17th to the 19th centuries, many would have lived in a Seigniory. Learn how to use and find Seigneurial records in Quebec. With Dr. Luc Lepine

Military Monday: the missing soldier

A post from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission reported burial services held in the Somme and Pas de Calais regions of France between 21 and 23 September for 13 unknown soldiers who lost their lives during World War One.

Sadly, “Despite extensive research carried out by the JCCC, none of the 13 men could be identified.” The JCCC is the UK Ministry of Defence Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre.

These days DNA is being recovered from human remains hundreds and thousands of years old. I wondered about the extent of the “extensive research.” 

The 2019 article Searching for the Missing Soldier: Identifying casualties from the First World War mentions an examination of 27 sets of human remains of WWI British casualties over a four-year period from twelve different sites across Belgium and northern France. There was a 100% success rate for the testing of hypervariable I and II markers of the control region of the mitochondrial genome and a 96% success rate of Y STR markers using Y23 obtaining profiles suitable for comparison. DNA identification was successful in identifying 10 of the 27 cases. The main challenging aspect with WWI identifications is the familial distance between the soldier who died in World War I and the relatives who are alive today.

Now there must have been considerable progress on DNA extraction and analysis since that research. Were others, besides the 13 mentioned in the CWGC release, found in the same time period who were identified? How sophisticated are present-day DNA techniques being used for missing soldier identification?

Why would we ever go back?

The BIFHSGO conference is over, and what a success! Over 400 registrants and, judging by the geographic distribution of prizewinners, from far and wide. Quality presentations. Those involved in the organization and staging of the week of presentations and other events each deserve our thanks.

There are so many good things about an online conference I question why organizers would ever go back to in-person events. Having been involved in organizing several conferences here are the pros for online:

    1. There’s no complaining about the food. That’s often the #1 comment about a conference.
    2. There’s no complaining about a presenter repeating the same material at different times. That gets especially annoying when you pay for a special pre-conference event and then hear the same thing later during the conference.
    3. You can get a wider variety of presentations and presenters, meaning the possibility of covering niche topics.
    4. No parallel sessions, or if there are recordings available.
    5. There’s no need for on-site time-critical logistical operations like signs, registration, security — and food.
    6. There’s no cost and no GHG emissions from flying speakers long distances.
    7. Attendees from a distance incur no travel, food and accommodation costs.
    8. There’s less chance of the event being disrupted by a power cut or natural hazards, like a tornado or earthquake.

Can you think of any cons? I can; they pale in comparison.

That said, having broken the old mould I hope BIFHSGO remains open to other changes. Instead of one major conference perhaps a series of one-day mini-conferences. BIFHSGO will be sending a feedback form later in the week, Please respond, and in the meantime, you can add comments to this post.


Ancestry adds Index Records for Shropshire Parish BMBs

Find over 5 million new entries in Ancestry’s Shropshire Church of England parish titles.

Title Records
Shropshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 2,668,055
Shropshire, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1900 1,469,334
Shropshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1901 555,737
Shropshire, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-1900 319,358

These are index records, no images of the original record, created from Anglican Parish Registers held at Shropshire Archives in Shrewsbury.

Findmypast has a Shropshire parish collection and it includes links to images of the original. Interestingly it has about half as many records! The Shropshire Archives refer to their “wonderful colour images.”

MyHeritage has scattered records for individual Shropshire parishes.

TheGenealogist has records for 147 and FreeReg for 42 Shropshire parishes.