British Newspaper Archive April Additions

Another amazing month for the British Newspaper Archive, now with a total of 50,585,003 pages online (49,829,385 last month). That blows past 50 million with the fourth-best month since January 2020.

This month 148 papers had pages added (240 in the previous month). There were 29 (54) new titles. Dates range from 1827 to 1995.

The 18 newspapers with more than 10,000 pages added are

Title Years
Civil & Military Gazette (Lahore) 1929, 1935-1938, 1946-1951, 1954-1961
Tonbridge Free Press 1871-1896, 1898-1962
Sydenham, Forest Hill & Penge Gazette 1873-1894, 1905-1939, 1946-1949, 1951-1962
St. Pancras Gazette 1866-1939
Nottingham and Midland Catholic News 1908-1911, 1913-1934
Runcorn Weekly News 1988, 1991-1994
Kilmarnock Standard 1982, 1984, 1990, 1994
Kensington News and West London Times 1876, 1882, 1887-1888, 1913, 1917-1918, 1920, 1922, 1925, 1927-1928, 1930-1934, 1938-1939, 1944, 1950, 1952-1954, 1957-1962, 1965, 1967, 1970-1971
Evening News (Waterford) 1899-1914
Cleveland Standard 1908-1953
Bury Free Press 1960-1967, 1970-1973
Edinburgh Evening News 1925, 1927-1928, 1930
Paisley Daily Express 1882, 1887-1888, 1890-1893, 1989
Woodbridge Reporter 1869-1900
Daily Record 1992
Loughborough Echo 1952, 1986, 1994-1995
Harrow Observer 1965, 1981, 1993, 1995
Buckinghamshire Examiner 1971, 1984, 1994-1995

Newfoundland genetic history

A pdf preprint of the article Newfoundland and Labrador: A mosaic founder population of an Irish and British diaspora from 300 years ago is posted in BioRxiv. The lead author, Edmund Gilbert, is well known for his studies of geographic distribution and linkages from DNA data.

Analysis of 1,807 Newfoundland and  Labrador individuals shows English ancestry is predominant except for Irish in the south and south-east. A genetic bottleneck exits approximately 10 to 15 generations ago.

These findings are consistent with the isolation of outports and known genealogical evidence. The comparative genetic data to establish DNA connections to French (and Spanish?) settlers is not available, nor is that of the indigenous populations.

Findmypast adds125 million records: UK Electoral Registers & Companies House Directors

125 million! With 124,218,791 records total in this collection! It must be new to Findmypast (FMP) and the 125 rounding the industry-standard promotion rhetoric.  Who’s counting! 

As we know from the British Newspaper Archive project, one of the aces FMP holds is its relationship with the British Library. That’s to the fore as they acknowledge working “in partnership with the British Library” on this project.

Here’s FMP’s description.

“These records are mostly from the 2021 electoral registers, along with the regular suppression list. It’s an excellent resource for researching current history, discovering more about the social landscape, or gathering data on your local area. These records will often give you a name, an estimated age, an address and years occupied. For many of us, these will be some of the first records we can find ourselves in.”

For living people you’re looking for, this sounds great. How good is it, you ask me? Will I find people related to me?

I’ll answer the second question first. I have relatives and friends one would think would be included and are long-term at the same address. The first listed is in the one location from 2002-14 with no information later. Another, in a nearby village, is there from 2016-22; and another in four of the years between 2002 to 2016.

I got different results for more distant relatives, ones I’m not in touch with. One was only listed twice, each for a single year at different addresses. There was no sign of a family of four male siblings, three born in Wiltshire and one in Berkshire in the 1950s and 60s. Maybe they left the country without telling me!

So what’s the answer to the first question?

Hit and miss.

Can Ancestry do any better? They have UK, Electoral Registers, 2003-2010 with 65,218,309 records. So no. The Ancestry collection is smaller and covers a more limited period.

MyHeritage has no comparable collection, nor does TheGenealogist.

Also, this week FMP makes available the US 1950 census images with partial indexing as performed by the US National Archives. FMP is not working on a complete transcription or enhanced name index.


Kudos Library and Archives Canada front line staff

On Wednesday, I made my first research trip to Library and Archives Canada at 395 Wellington in more than two years. Masks required, but no vaccination check. Lots of protective equipment is evident since my last pre-pandemic visit.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the helpful front-line staff. With the restrictions in place, requiring reservations more than two weeks in advance, the site did not seem overly busy, giving more time for staff to provide help. While I only recall the names of two, Tom and Steve, the service provided generally more than met expectations.

OGS conference interview with Gordon L McBean

Here’s the second of my interviews with speakers at the 24 – 26 June 2022 OGS/Ontario Ancestors conference.

If you missed the first interview, with Wayne Shepheard, find it here.

I have a few more planned while Penny Allen, official conference”bloginator,” will interview quite a few others. The plan is to link them on the conference speaker profile page.

Why are we doing this? The initial impetus was to provide information about the speaker, and the presentation, encourage you to attend their presentation and register for the conference. You’ll find out more about the individual and perhaps discover they have other interests coincident with yours. I found that during both interviews, so reach out to make one-to-one contact with the speaker if you discover a commonality of interest.

Ancestry adds records for women in UK military service to 1920

Newly online at Ancestry, from holdings at the UK National Archives.

UK, Women’s Royal Air Force Service Records, 1918-1920. 

The collection consists of 31,399 records from AIR 80 – Air Ministry: Master General of Personnel and Director of Personnel: Airwomen’s Records,
It includes enrollment forms, certificates of discharge, correspondence, and casualty forms for active service, which were recorded when personnel switched units.
Members of the WRAF served in various non-combat roles, including clerks, cooks, housekeepers, photographers, drivers, tinsmiths, pigeon keepers, welders, and more.

UK, Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps Service Records, 1917-1920. 

The collection contains 19,773 records from WO 398: War Office: Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps: Service Records, First World War.
The information is on:  application forms, enrollment forms, certificates of identification, certificates of discharge, correspondence, medical history forms, and casualty forms for active service, which were recorded when personnel switched units, references from employers, clothing history sheets, which contain details about uniforms.
Occupations were typically cooking, waitressing, administrative work, and cleaning.

Records in both collections may include name, with a maiden name if married, birthplace, birth date, race, nationality, residence, marital status, occupation, date and place of enlistment, date and place of discharge, regiment, unit, service number, names and addresses of next of kin, relationship to next of kin.

Chronic delays at Library and Archives Canada

Clients have experienced chronic delays in Library and Archives Canada‘s responses to access to information (ATIP) applications. They are significant, months and even years. The situation became severe enough to warrant an investigation.

A report Access at issue: The challenge of accessing our collective memory by The Information Commissioner of Canada, Caroline Maynard, was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, 26 April 2022.

It concluded that “LAC is not meeting its obligations under the Access to Information Act.”

The report, sent to the Minister of Canadian Heritage in January, includes a copy of his response in an annex. The Information Commissioner then commented, “I remain disappointed by an apparent lack of engagement to make concrete and positive improvements.” The Commissioner calls for “making the proper resourcing of ATIP operations a higher priority.”

More broadly, the report comments that “The challenges that LAC is facing cannot all be addressed through its actions. I call upon the Government to take a broader perspective in its efforts to improve access to information, and to find solutions that address the root causes of these problems.”

Two challenges facing Canada’s access to information system more generally are singled out:

-the manner in which consultations on access requests are conducted between institutions; and
-the lack of a Government-wide framework for the declassification of records.

The Information Commissioner makes the following ten recommendations.

1. Direct LAC ATIP officials to use their delegated authority to respond to all access requests with outstanding consultations forthwith.
2. Direct LAC ATIP officials, for new access requests requiring consultations, to establish a rigorous process to determine the length of time the consultations should take and to respond to those requests before the expiry of the extension sought, with or without the institutions’ input.
3. Process all pending access requests for records classified as Top Secret forthwith, even as implementation and certification of new infrastructure continues.
4. Respond to the backlog of access requests that resulted from LAC suspending ATIP operations during the pandemic.
5. Implement fully functional infrastructure to allow ATIP officials to process Secret and Top Secret records efficiently.
6. Ensure ATIP officials have access to the LAC network and record-processing software at all times, so LAC is always in a position to respond to access requests.
7. Require institutions to review and, whenever possible, declassify or downgrade the classification of records prior to transferring them to LAC.
8. Negotiate adequate funding for LAC’s ATIP office to support new programs introduced by other institutions.
9. Review and adjust the permanent funding for the various units with the ATIP office to reflect their workload.
10. Publish on the LAC website by the end of 2022 the concrete results achieved to implement these recommendations and provide quarterly updates.

In response the LAC website posted a Statement by the Librarian and Archivist of CanadaLesley Weir accepts that there is a shared responsibility — “With the support of our Minister, we will pursue all available means and channels within the Government of Canada to properly fulfill our mandate and address the issues raised by the Information Commissioner.”

The “apparent lack of engagement to make concrete and positive improvements” by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, reflects more general government neglect. Recall that the mandate letter to the Minister made no mention of this chronic problem at LAC. While the recommendation of the Commissioner was for LAC to provide quarterly updates on concrete results to implement the recommendations, the Minister commits only to “updates on progress on a semi-annual basis beginning in late 2022.”

For those who have been waiting months and years for a response to routine requests, those not made under the provisions of ATIP and so lower priority for LAC, like Second World War service files, this response from the Minister gives little hope for improved timeliness. Management, starting with the Librarian and Archivist, and the Minister should treat seriously the LAC mandate, which calls for holdings to be available, not just held and not just those ordered under ATIP.

Births and COVID 19

On Sunday, I  included a link to an article on provisional birth data from the UK Office for National Statistics.

It suggests there was a temporary decline in babies conceived during the first three months of the first lockdown in 2020, but then the fertility rate rebounded to levels above those seen in previous years.

What happened in Canada?

For the first four months of 2020, births recorded are on the low side of those for previous years, more or less in line with the trend in previous years. Then there’s a significant decline (not as dramatic as it appears as the baseline in the figure is 25,000 births.) It may be that part of the decline from April onward, prior to nine months after the start of the pandemic lockdown, results from problems with registering a birth.

StatsCan does not yet have monthly birth figures available for 2021; their quarterly birth estimates are:

The second to fourth quarters of 2021 show a rebound in births from 2020 as in the UK, while the long-term trend of the declining number of births continues.


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

Tuesday 26 Apr. 2 pm: Different Ways to View Your Tree, by Uri Gonen for MyHeritage and Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Tuesday 26 Apr. 2:30 pm: Naming Practices in Genealogy, by John Beatty for Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center.

Wednesday 27 Apr. 1 pm: Newspaper and City Directories, by James Tanner for MyHeritage.

Wednesday 27 Apr. 2 pm: Wringing Every Drop out of Mitochondrial DNA, by Roberta Estes for Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Thursday 28 Apr. 6:30 pm: “A Nation Talking to Itself”: Intro to Newspaper Research, by Elizabeth Hodges for Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center.

Thursday 28 Apr. 7:30 pm: Peeling back 13,000 years of Indigenous existence in Niagara, by Michele-Elise Burnett for the Historical Society of St. Catharines.

Friday 29 Apr. 2 pm: DNA Uncovers Family, by Diahan Southard and Nathan Dylan Goodwin.

Free Issue of Family Tree Magazine

Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections covers the contents and makes occasional comments on the month’s UK Family Tree magazine.

Now the Family Tree team is giving everyone the chance to sample the popular magazine for free. Here are the details.

“Sign up and you will immediately receive access to the full April 2022 issue, as a digital ‘page-turner’ edition.

Editor Helen Tovey said: “We want everyone to sample our wonderful magazine and this seemed like a great way to get people involved and for them to find out more about family history. We’re so proud of our monthly mag, it’s been going since 1984 and is packed with information and inspiration, and we also love putting together our weekly newsletter. Family history is all about sharing and so we’d thought we’d give something back!”

Highlights of the April issue include:
 Determining the origin of surnames
 How your ancestors' birth dates can hold the key to the past
 How to use kirk session records
 The lives and working conditions of tailors, dressmakers & seamstresses.”

Take advantage of the opportunity to get your free digital issue at:

Military Monday: A Street Near You

I received a suggestion to post about A Street Near You, a WW1 website

It’s one I mentioned on the old blog site in November 2019 where I pointed out the need to be careful of taking the content at face value, in that case for Captain Harry Alden Whitby of the West Yorkshire Regiment.

With over 1 million burials and memorial inscriptions on the site there’s a good chance there’s someone in the database with a connection to your family. As far as I can determine the site is no longer being updated.