British Newspaper Archive Update for November

There have been 33 additions in November, compared to 37 last month. Most are for well into the 20th century. The earliest is for 1889.

The collection now totals 72,474,029 pages, up from 71,794,658 in the October update. Seven new titles have been added. Those with more than 10,000 pages added are:

Title Years
Scotland on Sunday 1988-2002
Gloucestershire Echo 1986-1989
Western Evening Herald 1988, 1999
Portadown Times 1982-1997
Londonderry Sentinel
1961-1962, 1966, 1968-1976, 1989, 1992-1994
Carrick Times and East Antrim Times 1987-1999
Lurgan Mail
1986-1988, 1990-1992, 1994-1999
Edinburgh Evening News
1946, 1982, 1992, 1994
Larne Times
1985-1989, 1991, 1994-1999
Newtownabbey Times and East Antrim Times
1987-1989, 1991-1999
Belfast News-Letter
1994, 1996, 1998
Mid-Ulster Mail
1922, 1926, 1938, 1941, 1943, 1949, 1952-1986, 1990-1999
South Wales Daily Post 1995, 1999
Ulster Star
1957-1987, 1989-1999


Just what I wanted, but!

I’ve been trying to find a source that I’d seen months ago about Liverpool in the 19th century, explaining that bodies were discovered in the river Mersey, and little was done to find out why they died. I know it was in a book on the Internet Archive texts, but I couldn’t find it. Google was no help, so I tried AI.

I asked Bard “You are an expert on the history of 19th century Liverpool, England. Find a reference in a contemporary book to there being bodies discovered in the river Mersey and little being done to find out why they died.”

It wasn’t the source I expected, but seemed it might be where the one I’d seen had got its information. Bard’s response was

“In his 1842 book The Condition of the Working Class in England, Friedrich Engels describes a visit to Liverpool in which he witnesses the recovery of a body from the River Mersey. He writes:

I went down to the river-side to see a body which had just been taken out of the water. It was a young man, apparently about twenty years of age, well dressed, and with the appearance of belonging to the middle class. There was no mark of violence upon him, and it was supposed that he had fallen in accidentally. However, the police made no attempt to ascertain the cause of his death, and no inquest was held. This is a common occurrence in Liverpool. Bodies are constantly being found in the river, and no effort is made to discover how they came there.

Engels’ observations highlight the indifference and neglect that characterized the treatment of the working class in 19th-century Liverpool. The deaths of these individuals were not seen as worthy of investigation, and their lives were considered expendable. This disregard for human life was a reflection of the harsh realities of urban poverty and the deep social divisions that existed in Victorian England.

The discovery of bodies in the River Mersey was a common occurrence in 19th-century Liverpool. The river served as a dumping ground for the bodies of those who had died in accidents, suicides, or murders. In many cases, the identities of these individuals remained unknown, and the circumstances of their deaths were never investigated. This lack of inquiry was due, in part, to the overwhelming number of deaths that occurred in the city. Liverpool was a rapidly growing industrial center, and its population swelled with immigrants from rural areas seeking work. The city’s infrastructure was unable to cope with this influx of people, and sanitation was poor. As a result, diseases such as cholera and typhus were rampant, and many people died young.

The discovery of bodies in the River Mersey was also a reflection of the city’s social divisions. The wealthy residents of Liverpool lived in well-maintained neighborhoods, while the working class was crammed into overcrowded tenements. The river served as a dividing line between these two worlds, and the bodies that were found in its waters were a stark reminder of the poverty and despair that existed in the city’s slums.

The lack of investigation into the deaths of those found in the River Mersey was a tragedy. It not only deprived these individuals of justice but also allowed the root causes of their deaths to go unaddressed. The indifference of the authorities to the plight of the working class contributed to the cycle of poverty and despair that plagued 19th-century Liverpool.”

That’s just what I wanted, so I checked a copy of the book on the Internet Archive and couldn’t find the Engles paragraph quoted. I asked Bard for the detailed source and received this reply.

I apologize for the error in my previous response. I was unable to locate the specific quote about the discovery of bodies in the River Mersey in Friedrich Engels’ book The Condition of the Working Class in England. I carefully reviewed the text multiple times and conducted an extensive online search, but I was unable to find any instance of this passage. It is possible that the quote I provided is from a different source or that it is a paraphrase of a passage from Engels’ book.

I followed up by asking Bard to find another source that responds to my original question. It returned the names and extracts from two other books. Neither of them exist.

Hallucination is real.

FreeBMD November Update

The FreeBMD Database was updated on Wednesday, 22 November 2023, to contain 289,525,246 unique entries, up from 289,338,329 on 30 October.

Years with more than 10,000 new entries are for births, 1992-1993, for marriages 1991 – 1993, and for deaths 1993 – 1995.

Disaster! Keep it Safe.

The British Library and Toronto Public Library are both dealing with ransomware attacks.

At the British Library “disruption to certain services is now expected to persist for several months.”

The Toronto Public Library (TPL) says access to its system will remain down until the new year as a result of a cyberattack in late October.

Many Canadian public libraries use Bibliocommons, a Canadian-owned, Toronto-based company that serves hundreds of libraries internationally, including Ottawa’s and many others in Canada, but not the TPL.  That must make them a big-enough fish to attract ransomware attacks.

While we can only watch and hope the organizations we relay on are resilient to the criminal attacks, how vulnerable are you? How vulnerable are entirely volunteer-based genealogical societies? Faced with an attack, what would you do?

Forewarned is forearmed, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (or whatever the metric equivalent is!). Beware of common methods of phishing through downloads of malicious software or legitimate looking sites asking for passwords.

You’ve probably seen advice like keeping your operating system, apps and other software up to date a million times. You know to use strong passwords, not reuse them, and enable two-factor authentication where available. 

Other advice is to use reputable antivirus and anti-malware software and back up your data regularly. Remember LOCKSS – lots of copies keeps stuff safe. Backup the gedcom for your genealogy database and other unique data on the cloud, on a USB drive (and then unplug and store it away), and give a duplicate to a relative or friend.

If you do get hit by a ransonware attack, or more likely a hardware failure, you’ll be in a good position, with a lot of work, to recover.

Or would you enjoy the task of re-researching your family tree

If you have a personal website there are various option for backing it up. This site is run on WordPress for which there are various convenient backup options. Make it a priority to find out how safe you are already, and look at options to protect your site further.


While researching this item I came across a bookThe Ransomware Hunting Team: a Band of Misfits’ Improbable Crusade to Save the World From Cybercrime. It might be a fun read. Eight copies are available at the Ottawa Public Library.


This Week’s Online Genealogy Events

Choose from selected free online events in the next five days. All times are ET except as noted. Assume registration in advance is required; check so you’re not disappointed. Are you looking for more options? Additional mainly US events are listed at

Tuesday 28 November

2 pm: Ottawa Virtual Genealogy Drop-In, by OGS Ottawa Branch.

2 pm: The Good News About Historical Newspapers, by Daniel Horowitz for MyHeritage and Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

7 pm: Five Fundamentals for Scottish Genealogy, by Melanie McLennan for OGS Wellington County Branch.

Wednesday 29 November

2 pm: The Erie Canal and the Opening of the Midwest, by Annette Burke Lyttle for Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

7:30 pm: Lest we Forget Remembering those who served in the Wars from Huron County, by a speaker panel from OGS Huron County Branch.

Thursday 30 November

6:30 pm: Farming, Factories, and The Frontier: Midwest Genealogy Basics, by Eleanor Brinsko for Allen Country Public Library Genealogy Center.

7 am: Reimagine, la nouvelle application photo de MyHeritage, by Elisabeth Zetland for MyHeritage and Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Friday 1 December

2 pm: Who Were “Felix Richards’ Slaves”?: Identifying Enslaved People Photographed During the Civil War, by Amy Bertsch for Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Saturday 2 December

10 am: The End of the Whodunit?: The Democratization of Cold Case Investigation & Rise of Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy (FIGG), by Michael Arntfield for OGS London and Middlesex Branch.




A Full Index to Anglo-Celtic Roots

As of August, you can now search the titles and authors of all articles in Anglo-Celtic Roots, The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa quarterly chronicle, from inception in 1995 to 2023.

Open the Index of Titles, a pdf, and search using “Ctrl+F” for a word in a title, an author’s name or the year or volume of the issue. The index is open to the public, as are the journals, except only BIFHSGO members can read those from recent years.

Here’s a word cloud compiled from the complete file. My regular Cream of the Crop column is evident. See all the others who have contributed with eight or more mentions over the years.

Thanks to hard-working BIFHSGO webmanager Sheila Dohoo Faure for compiling the index. It’s a good step along the road to a consolidated full-text searchable archive, the only way the gems therein will be readily revealed.

Military Monday: CORB and the Rangitane

Today is the 83rd anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Rangitane by German raiders in the Pacific. It was the largest Allied merchant ship to be sunk by a German surface vessel during the Second World War. My father, Charles Reid, was one of the crew, an engineering officer.

Sixteen of the 312 Rangitane passengers died, including volunteers who had escorted 477 Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB) evacuees to Australia on the MV Batory.

On its last voyage from the UK in September 1940, the Rangitane had left with 113 British children being evacuated to New Zealand by CORB. It was recalled back to Liverpool to debark them following the sinking of the SS City of Benares with the loss of 77 CORB children.


Sunday Sundries

Miscellaneous items I found of interest during the week.

Family Oral History Across the World – New Book

Artificial Intelligence Genealogy Insights – The Power of AI in Tutoring – video

Artificial Intelligence Genealogy Insights – Can ChatGPT Help with Genealogy Citations? – video

Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons
I picked up this, the newest book by Charlotte Gray, for Christmas reading, at a major discount at Costco.

Thanks to this week’s contributors: Anonymous, Brenda Turner,  Christine Jackson, gail benjafield, Glenn Wright, Joseph Denis Wayne Laverdure, Sunday Thompson, Teresa, Unknown.

1931 Census of Canada at LAC

The 1931 census, Schedule 1: Population, is now available in name indexed form at Library and Archives Canada.

LAC released census images on 1 June. However, a name-indexed version now being available for free at their site seems little publicity.

The indexing is by Ancestry and FamilySearch using AI technology with the index linked to original images.


Findmypast Weekly Update

This week’s biggest update is to the National Burial Index collection for England & Wales. Added are 122,691 transcriptions for the county of Herefordshire. These records, between 1539 and 1840, are unique to Findmypast.

The FMP Kent Burials collection adds 14,506 transcriptions from the borough of Medway covering 1981 to 2020.

Dunn’s Funeral Directors Registers for the town of Bromley sees the addition of 1,478 records, transcriptions, and images of the original register to the Kent Burials collection covering 1803 to 1839. In some cases, an occupation is also listed, as well as additional notes – such as marital status, parents’ names, and whether the deceased was a foundling.