Scottish Family History Month 2022

Chris Paton is hosting a series of talks during February sponsored by Family Tree magazine and History Scotland.

Booking is open for a bundle price of £40 for all 5 talks (£35 for magazine subscribers) or £10 ($17 Cdn) for individual talks.

Making sense of the Scottish census, Emma Maxwell, 1 February, 1.30 pm –
Civil cases in the sheriff courts, Fergus Smith, 4 February, 9 am
Using DNA for Scottish family history research, Michelle Leonard, 8 February 1.30 pm
Tracing Scottish women, Kirsty Wilkinson, 17 February, 1.30 pm
Scottish research resources before 1800, Chris Paton, 22 February, 1.30 pm

There’s more information at

LAC Co-Lab Updates for January

Of Library and Archives Canada’s Co-Lab Challenges progress is reported on two projects since last month.

Women in the War, with 70 images, remains 0% complete.

First World War Posters, with 140 images, is 95% complete, 81% last month.

Arthur Lismer’s Children’s Art Classes remains 0% complete.

John Freemont Smith remains 94% complete.

Canadian National Land Settlement Association remains 98% complete.

Molly Lamb Bobak remains 88% complete.

Diary of François-Hyacinthe Séguin is 99% complete, 98% last month.

George Mully: moments in Indigenous communities remains 0% complete.

Correspondence regarding First Nations veterans returning after the First World War remains 99% complete.

Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 remains 96% complete.

Legendary Train Robber and Prison Escapee Bill Miner remains 99% complete.

Japanese-Canadians: Second World War, remains 3% complete.

The Call to Duty: Canada’s Nursing Sisters remains 92% complete.

Projects that remain 100% complete are no longer reported here.

Other unidentified Co-Lab activities not part of the Challenges may have happened.

Popular Genealogy Library Books

A rundown on popular new genelogy acquisitions at the OPL and TPL.

Ottawa Public Library

Tracing your Irish Ancestors Through Land Records
A Guide for Family Historians
by Paton, Chris
Holds: 13 on 5 copies

Our Village Ancestors
A Genealogist’s Guide to Understanding the English Rural Past
by Osborn, Helen
Holds: 10 on 5 copies

Planning A Future for your Family’s Past
How to Keep your Family History Safe for Future Generations by Organizing, Curating, Writing Instructions, and Sharing Now!
by Wood, Marian Burk
Holds: 8 on 5 copies

Scottish Genealogy
The Basics and Beyond
by Dobson, David
Holds: 9 on 4 copies

Tracing your Ancestors Using the UK Historical Timeline
A Guide for Family Historians
by Smith, Angela
Holds: 5 on 4 copies

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water
by Hannah-Jones, Nikole
Book – 2021
Holds: 18 on 7 copies

A Nation of Descendants
Politics and the Practice of Genealogy in U.S. History
by Morgan, Francesca
eBook – 2021
Holds: 1 on 1 copy

Genealogy Tips and Quips
by Watson, Eliza
Holds: 2 on 1 copy

Toronto Public Library

Tracing your Scottish Ancestors: a guide to ancestry research in the National Records of Scotland and Scotlandspeople
National Archives of Scotland.
7 holds / 2 copies

Understanding DNA ancestry
Krimsky, Sheldon, author.
14 holds / 8 copies

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 18 Jan. 2 pm: Virtual Genealogy Drop-In, from Ottawa Branch of OGS and The Ottawa Public Library.

Tuesday 18 Jan. 7 pm: The Laws and the Land: The Settler Colonial Invasion of Kahnawà:ke in Nineteenth-Century Canada, by Daniel Rück for Ottawa Historical Association.

Tuesday 18 Jan. 8 pm: Using Historical Fiction and Social History to Support Your Narrative, by Beth A. Stahr for BCG and Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Wednesday 19 Jan, 2 pm: An Additional 50 Websites Every Genealogist Should Know, by Gena Philibert-Ortega for Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Saturday 22 Jan. 1 pm: Building on Local History (Ottawa), by Michelle Landriault from the Van Kleek Hill Museum for Ottawa Branch OGS.

What Motivates Family Historians? Survey Results

More than I expected, 44 people, responded to the survey posted last week.

This summary of the responses to each suggested reason show the top three motivations with a “very important” response were:

    1. Interlectually stimulating (82%)
    2. Acknowledge those who came before me (73%)
    3. Keep my mind active (68%)

The top “not important” reasons were:

    1. Become a professional genealogist (84%)
    2. Improve my self-esteem and sense of worth (77%)
    3. Other (75%) — meaning the questions captured most of the motivations.

Compare these to the results from the Australian survey reported in the Moore and Robinson (M&R) article What Motivates Family Historians? A Pilot Scale to Measure Psychosocial Drivers of Research into Personal Ancestry

For “very important”:

    1. Curiosity about my roots (76%)
    2. Acknowledge those who came before me (75%)
    3. Because I love history (68%)

For “not important”:

    1. Other (79%) — meaning the questions captured most of the motivations.
    2. Become a professional family historian (69%)
    3. Improve my self-esteem and sense of worth (66%)
  1. M&R found the questions could be grouped into three broader motivations, self-understanding, altruism and cognitive challenges.

Applying the same groupings to this survey altruism was the leading motivation for 24 respondants. According to M&R “higher scores on the altruism motive were characteristic of those who had more descendants and who were more generative, that is, oriented toward assisting and leaving a legacy for the next generation. The higher levels of conscientiousness and openness to experience of these individuals also points to a sense of personal maturity that might reasonably characterise those with the psychosocial resources to contribute toward the welfare of others, particularly with activities that strengthen family ties.

Cognitive challenges was the dominant motivation for 13 respondants. M&R “those more strongly motivated by the cognitive challenges of family history research tended to be more highly educated and to spend more time on their genealogical activities; this pattern of associations is consistent with the motivational construct we were attempting to measure with the Cognitive Challenge subscale. It indicates an interest in intellectual endeavours, puzzles and mysteries, and the at-times addictive quality of these interests.”

The self-understanding was the leading motivation for 6 respondents. M&R comment “Individuals whose motives toward self-understanding were stronger were also more likely to be adopted, have half-siblings, and/or have had a DNA test. These associations independently suggest a lack of knowledge about biological and ancestral roots (for example, possibly unknown biological parents or grandparents). The finding of lower levels of emotional stability among those with higher scores on the self-understanding motive fits with the notion that there may be some distress associated with lack of knowledge about one’s ancestral and cultural background. The lack of knowledge may point to feelings of not belonging and of not being sure of one’s place in the world, and even a weakened sense of identity.”

One person’s responses showed the same level across all three motivations.

The sample size is too small to consider these results anything but interesting and food for thought. Amateur family historians do have a variety of motives, something organizations catering to the community need to keep in mind.

Military Monday: Peter Butterworth

This is the anniversary of the death in 1979 of English actor and comedian Peter Butterworth, well remembered from children programmes on the BBC during my time in England. He featured in many of the “Carry On” series of films.

According to his Wikipedia entry, Peter William Shorrocks Butterworth (4 February 1915 – 17 January 1979) ” served as a lieutenant in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War. While flying in an attack on the Dutch coast off Den Helder in 1940 his Fairey Albacore was shot down by Messerschmitt Bf 109s killing one crew member and wounding the other. After a forced landing on the island of Texel, he was captured, becoming a prisoner of war (POW). Sent to the Dulag Luft POW transit camp, at Oberursel near Frankfurt, he later escaped in June 1941 through a tunnel. He travelled 27 miles (43 km) over three days before a member of the Hitler Youth captured him. Afterwards, he joked that he could never work with children again. Two other attempts to escape were made during his time there, but he never got beyond the campgrounds. He was subsequently sent to Stalag Luft III, near Sagan, the scene of The Great Escape.

Whilst at Stalag Luft III he met Talbot Rothwell, who later went on to write many of the Carry On films in which Butterworth was to star. Having never performed in public before his imprisonment, Butterworth formed a duo with Rothwell and sang in the camp shows. They delivered a song that Rothwell called “The Letter Edged In Black”. The performance was followed by some comic repartee which, according to Butterworth’s account, provoked enough boos and hisses to have the desired effect of drowning out the sounds of an escape tunnel being dug by other prisoners‘ escape party. After the war, Butterworth kept a photo of the concert party line-up, something which offered inspiration to him when starting a career in acting.

Butterworth was one of the vaulters covering for the escapers during the escape portrayed by the book and film The Wooden Horse. Butterworth later auditioned for the film in 1949 but “didn’t look convincingly heroic or athletic enough” according to the makers of the film.

Within the same camp as Butterworth and Rothwell were the future actors Rupert Davies and John Casson, who was the son of Lewis Casson and Sybil Thorndike. All five remained very close friends after the war ended and they all appeared on This Is Your Life when Butterworth was a subject of the programme in 1975.”

Sunday Sundries

Ottawa 5 am Sunday weather forecast

Tonight Increasing cloudiness. Snow beginning after midnight. Amount 5 cm. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 17. Wind chill near minus 24.

Mon, 17 Jan Snow at times heavy and local blowing snow. Amount 20 to 30 cm. Wind northeast 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming northwest 30 gusting to 50 in the afternoon. High minus 4. Wind chill minus 21 in the morning and minus 11 in the afternoon.

Night Periods of snow. Low minus 16.


Miscellaneous items I found of interest during the week.

and the rest of the year is …

UK Life Expectancy Calculator

England and Wales Baby Name Explorer

Devon Monumental Inscriptions
Over 94,150 names linked to nearly 64,000 photos from the Devon FHS.


Doing Maritime History Research Online
A 1-day workshop, 9:30 am to 5 pm (GMT), Friday 4 February 2022

John Grenham on the false hope Irish Land Commission Records

A pun has not completely matured until it’s   …   Full groan

Thanks to this week’s contributors.  Ann Burns, Anonymous, Barbara Di Mambro, Brenda Turner,  Chuck B., Dianne,  Jo Stanbridge, Teresa, Unknown.


Somewhat belatedly, I do aim to do so at the start of the year, I’d like to disclose and acknowledge the courtesies extended by some commercial genealogy companies.

From MyHeritage, a free subscription, invitations to online briefings, and this year, the nice insulated drinking flask that arrived by mail.

From Findmypast, a free subscription which his year includes a discount on 1921 census images.

From, a free subscription as a member of the Canadian Advisory Board and invitations to briefings on developments.

On request, I sometimes receive review copies of books from Global Genealogy and Pen & Sword.

Do these mean I pay attention to company developments? Yes, but not to the exclusion of others such as TheGenealogist,  Legacy Family Tree Webinars, and The British Newspaper Archive (which has now passed 47 million pages available.)


Findmypast adds 1921 census analytical reports

Do you place your ancestors in context? Perhaps you look at the neighbours to get an idea of their occupations, number of persons in the houses, whether there are lodgers, etc.

That’s not possible for the 1921 Census of England & Wales as now available on FMP — unless you want to spend money ordering the neighbour’s data.

A poor substitute is the Official Reports, now available on FMP, produced in the years after the 1921 Census was taken — statistical reports both regionally and nationally. That’s a broad picture giving statistics on:

Population growth
Marital Status
Occupations (both male and female)
Movement of population

If you don;t have FMP access these same reports are on HISTPOP starting at

Also now available on FMP are Occupation Books giving the classification and definition of all occupational terms in the 1921 Census that appear in green ink on the census schedules.



Who Do You Think You Are Magazine: February 2022

Inside the February issue

Reading old handwriting: Judith Batchelor shares tips on decipher old documents and breaking down brick walls.

Transcription Tuesday: Discover the date and featured projects in WDYTYA magazine’s 2022 volunteer event. They include registers for the 18th century St James’s Burial Ground in London and records from the Seaman’s Hospital through the Royal Museums Greenwich,

The story of the 1921 census:
How the landmark records release was the most turbulent census collection of all time.

Using DNA Painter: Debbie Kennett explains the website that can help you decipher your DNA test results.

Reader story: Leila Barratt’s great grandfather escaped General Franco’s Spain.

Almshouses: Caroline Roberts reviews the history and operation of these charitable institutions.

Plus… The best websites for Victorian wars, using online newspaper collections, how to use FTAnalyzer and more

Around Britain: Merseyside: Trace your family in Liverpool and its surroundings. A bunper crop of local resources are listed including a link to a spreadsheet with the names of around 16,000 individuals buried at St James’ Cemetery of the around 58,000 buried there in total.

A reminder, if your public library subscribes to PressReader you can access and online edition without charge.