A new series, the 19th, is coming to BBC starting in late May. The subjects, most mean nothing to me, are:

  • Sue Perkins – best known for presenting The Great British Bake Off and being one half of the comedy duo Mel and Sue, Perkins discovers more about her great grandfather’s experience during the First World War, whilst also learning of a poignant tale of her German ancestors plight during the Second World War.
  • Richard Osman – the TV quiz-show presenter and novelist finds out more about his maternal grandfather and uncovers a story of an intriguing murder case.
  • Matt Lucas – the comedian and presenter delves into the history of his maternal grandmother who came to Britain in 1939.
  • Anna Maxwell Martin – the Line of Duty actor travels to Scotland and Ireland to explore her ancestry and learns more about a family tragedy.
  • Ralf Little – the Manchester-born actor, famous for appearing in The Royle Family and Death in Paradise, discovers more about a talented footballer ancestor, echoing his own career as a semi-professional before he went into acting.

I hope to get to see them some day.

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 10 May. 1 pm: A virtual guided tour of  www.peterboroughcountygenealogy.ca, by Fraser Dunford for Kawartha Branch OGS. Register by email at TraceyT@curvelake.ca. 

Tuesday 10 May. 2 pm: Virtual Genealogy Drop-In, from Ottawa Branch of OGS and The Ottawa Public Library.

Tuesday 10 May. 2 pm: Drawing Insights from Your Family Photos, by Daniel Horowitz from MyHeritage and Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Tuesday 10 May, 7 pm: Early Irish Immigrants to Essex County, by Laura Smith for Essex Branch OGS. 

Wednesday 11 May. 10 am: Researching your house history, by The National Library of Scotland

Thursday 12 May, 6:30 pm: Ask the Experts: Death, Dying, and Genealogy, by Senior Librarians of Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center.

Thursday 12 May. 7 pm: Meet the Alberta Genealogical Society. by AGS  for Lambton Branch OGS.

Friday 13 May 7 pm: Resources for Family Historians at the Chatham-Kent Public Library, by Megan Cowan for Kent Branch OGS.

Saturday 14 May 9 am: Selection of Genealogy Programs and Services, by Bob Butler for BIFHSGO.

Saturday 14 May 10 am: The Diary Project, by Anne Coulter for BIFHSGO.


Military Monday: UK, Women’s Royal Naval Service Records, 1917-1919

This new collection from Ancestry has just 558 records for the WRNS originating from ADM 318 at The UK National Archives, Kew. The extensive information, most in images of the original record. may include:

    • Name, including maiden name if married
    • Rank
    • Birthplace
    • Birth date
    • Age
    • Date and place of enlistment
    • Date and place of discharge
    • Nationality
    • Residence
    • Marital status
    • Physical description
    • Regiment
    • Unit
    • Names of family members
    • Relationships to next of kin
    • Addresses of next of kin

Over 5,000 women were in the WRNS during the course of the war so the collection is far from complete.

Sunday Sundries

Miscellaneous items I found of interest during the week.

Ancestry this week added Edinburgh, Scotland, Alien Registers, 1794, 1798-1825, with 328 items composed of:
Registers of Aliens, 1798 July 20-1803 Oct 31
Registers of Aliens, 1803 Sept 5-1825 July 20
Registers of Aliens, Declarations of Foreigners, 1794 March 7-1798 April 26

The Blast From My Past is a podcast that features the incredible true stories of people whose lives were changed by what they discovered through MyHeritage about their family’s pasts — whether it was a close relative they never knew existed, the key to unlocking an old family mystery, or a newfound connection to a long-forgotten legacy.

Camsell Arrow
The City of Edmonton Archives has completed digitizing available issues of the Camsell Arrow, a newsletter produced by the staff and patients of the Charles Camsell Hospital, which operated from the 1940s to the mid-1990s, mostly treating Inuit and Indigenous people from the north.

Online (Irish) Estate Maps
From John Grenham.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED)
OED online, all 20 volumes of the latest printed edition, plus tens of thousands of exclusive new and revised entries, updated every three months, is now available with an Ottawa Public Library subscription. The OED includes over 600,000 words … 3.5 million quotations … and over 1,000 years of the English language!

The Ancestry Canada and US newspapers.com obituary indexes were updated on 5 May.

Sleep: here’s how much you really need

Thanks to this week’s contributors. Anonymous, Brenda Turner,  gail benjafield, Glenn W., Helen Billing, Linda Reid, Margaret Anne Sterling, Robert Halfyard, Unknown

Stifling the yawns

Genealogists strive to find the fundamental data about a person in their family tree. Dates and places of birth, death and marriage are the bread and butter for the genealogist. You learn about their occupation and where they lived—the same for their parents, spouse, and children.

That “bread and butter” makes for a yawn-inspiring collection of facts.

If you’re lucky, you have a photograph, maybe a document they wrote, depending on how many generations back. Perhaps it’s just a postcard, a collection of letters or a diary, or something someone else wrote about them. Those can give a clue to their personality. It’s personality, not places and dates, and how that influenced their actions that stifle the yawns.

How do you go about bringing out personality? It’s something that authors of fiction deal with. They have the advantage of unlimited scope for creativity but need to ensure consistency. They will often write a profile for the central characters with much more detail than is required; the person takes on a life of their own in the author’s imagination. As they write, authors can feel guided by the characters they create.

One approach authors may choose is the psychological trait theory model’s Big Five personality traits (as described on Wikipedia).

  • openness to experience (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious)
  • conscientiousness (efficient/organized vs. extravagant/careless)
  • extraversion (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved)
  • agreeableness (friendly/compassionate vs. critical/rational)
  • neuroticism (sensitive/nervous vs. resilient/confident).

A Canadian extension, the HEXACO model, adds an Honesty-Humility trait. If you’d like to explore further, consider taking the 60-item HEXACO personality assessment at https://www.hexaco.org/, answering either for yourself or someone you know reasonably well. While the place on the scale for these traits will also be yawn-inspiring, consider whether any of those 60 questions stand out as indicative of the subject’s personality.,

Biographers and family historians, unlike novelists, don’t have the luxury of inventing personalities. The information available may be spotty, one reason why TV programs like Who Do You Think You Are and Finding Your Roots jump around in the family tree focusing on notable ancestors. There are probably people in your grand or great-grand generation you’d like to write about, people you know a little about but not enough to answer 60 questions about their personality confidently.

Even with minimal information, you can make a guess and indicate it’s that. How?

If a parent loses a child, it’s a tragedy. If the child is one of 18, many living, some already passed, you wouldn’t be surprised if the impact were less. Suppose the parent was from a large family and had experienced siblings’ deaths; you might expect the effect to be even less.

Now think about the contrast if the child had no siblings.

Those life experiences, and those of previous generations, can be influential, if not dominant, in forming personality traits.

Finally, accept that your story about an ancestor includes information about another person — you, the author. The story is your interpretation; there is no such thing as objectivity, nor would it make for a compelling story. Your life experience will colour the story you write. As a former meteorologist, I want to know and include the weather on the day of an event. Why wouldn’t I want to draw on my knowledge? Are you into architecture, music, or gardening? Let your interest, reflected as it was in the day and might have been appreciated by your subject, shine through.





Findmypast adds Halifax National School Admissions Registers

Findmypast has just added more Halifax, Yorkshire, National School Admissions Registers to its database. The four schools added are Portland Road’s Infant School between 1890-1904 (2,135 results), Queens Road Boys Senior School 1904-1921 (1,418 results), Queens Road Girls Senior School 1884-1921 (3,571 results), and Queens Road Junior School 1896-1903 (1,446 results) all in Halifax.

From holdings at the West Yorkshire Archives, the transcripts contain admission year, birth year, school name, and parent’s names and residence information.

With these additions, there are now over eighty-eight thousand records in this collection for Halifax and over 9.3 million total in the National School Admission Registers & Log-Books 1870-1914 collection.


TheGenealogist adds Wimbledon area land tax records

TheGenealogist has released the IR58 landowner and occupier records (Lloyd George Survey) for the Merton area of south-west London in the 1910s. These property tax records include the listings for both the past and present grounds of The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. If you have ancestors from the area and era or are interested in tennis, TheGenealogist article Wimbledon: From Grazing Land to the Grass of Centre Court will be of interest.

FreeBMD May update

The FreeBMD Database was updated on Friday, 6 May 2022, to contain  284,959,570 unique records and 284,660,839 at the previous update.

Years with changes of more than 10,000 records since the last update for each of births and marriages are 1990-92 and for deaths 1989-90 and 1992.

1950 US Census

Ancestry has completed an early name index of the entire US 1950 census based on their handwriting recognition technology. Not all fields have been indexed. While verification through FamilySearch continues, Ancestry was confident enough with the handwriting technology quality to release this early version.

How good is it? Comparing state population totals with the official ones, Ancestry has some states with more, some less. Ohio stands out among the most populous states, missing about one million people.

The census is free to search and view results, including the original census form images.

What are some other interesting results?

Nearly 5% of the population of Vermont and 2% of Michigan’s population were born in Canada.

835,436 US residents were born in the UK.