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 https://conferencekeeper.org/virtual.

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.

Ancestry updates UK, Portraits and Photographs, 1547-2018

There are now 156,917 entries in Ancestry’s UK, Portraits and Photographs, 1547-2018 database.

Sourced from The National Portrait Gallery (UK) this collection contains portraits in a variety of mediums, including paintings, photographs, sculptures, drawings and prints. Early works are primarily those of importance to British culture and history — nobility and political figures. Later entries can be from a wider range, notably the arts and sport. There are even 47 entries for meteorologists – 10 for one person.

You can also search by the artist who created the work.

Explore further at the website of the New National Portrait Gallery.

Lowest Prices of the Year

Black Friday offers continue to flood in. Here are two that look interesting. Just be sure you’re likely to get enough benefit.

AncestryDNA is offering their test for $69 CDN, plus taxes and shipping. The offer ends 28 November 2023 at 11:59 p.m. ET. 

AncestryDNA has more than 25 million tests in its database, so all else being equal, which they aren’t, you’re more likely to find a match there than at the other test sites. Leah Larken has a useful graph showing the number of people in the database of each of the testing companies.

It may be you’re ancestry is better represented in one of the other DNA company databases, I thinking particularly of MyHeritage. You can always copy your AncestryDNA results over to other site and get the advantages of both.

The Genealogist is offering an annual Diamond Package subscription before the 1 December for a discount of over £120, or 55%. The actual price is £98.95 (about $169 CND) with a guarantee the price will never increase. The Genealogist has some unique content, notably the Lloyd George Domesday Survey records.

Family Tree DNA Discounts

Is your email inbox overflowing with Black Friday offers, most of which you can do without? Here’s one not to miss IF YOU NEED IT. A Y-DNA test can significantly aid in researching your paternal line, the paternal line from a brother if you’re a woman, or from a male cousin. Some consider it an essential part of a reasonably exhaustive search. Family Tree DNA is THE place to get it.

Don’t miss out on their Black Friday Sale with a wide range of discounts on their various test, not just Y-DNA, including bundles, until 30 November.

Take a look at the offers here.