Friday, 29 February 2008

1871 English & Welsh Census additions on has just uploaded more of the 1871 English and Welsh census:

"Six new counties have now been added to the 1871 census of England and Wales on - these are Cardiganshire, Cumberland, Monmouthshire, Northumberland, Warwickshire and Westmorland. There are now 40 complete counties online at, equating to 93% of the population surveyed in this census. The remaining 14 counties will be added in early March as part of's mission to offer a full set of England and Wales censuses online by the end of 2008."


Thursday, 28 February 2008

Expansion of the National Register of Archives online presence

The National Archies at Kew has announced that the online presence of the National Register of Archives is to expand. From the news release:

"The National Register of Archives contains details of the holdings of archives across the UK and beyond - a treasure trove of historical information. The scope and the sheer numbers involved in this invaluable research tool are remarkable. Overall, the register can provide information about the historical records of some 50,000 individuals, 9,000 families, 32,000 businesses and 100,000 other organisations.

Thanks to projects like Access to Archives, many of these catalogues are available online. However, many catalogues are still only available as paper lists. By digitising 250,000 pages of paper lists, The National Archives aims to ensure the catalogues of participating archives are made easier to search and more accessible for existing and new researchers alike. It will also continue the work of Access to Archives in making catalogues available online."

The National Register of Archives can be consulted online at .


Tuesday, 26 February 2008

British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920

Ancestry are having a busy week this week! The pension records for WW1 soldiers have been online for some time, and not content with having uploaded the first batch of images from the medal index card collection for soldiers who served in the First World War earlier this week, Ancestry has now put the first batch of the surviving WW1 soldiers service records online, known as the "burnt records", due to damage caused to them in an air raid in WW2. These images come from the National Archives WO363 collection.

From the Ancestry site comes the following description of what can be found:

Approximately 5 million men served in the British Army in World War One (WWI). This database contains the surviving service records of non-commissioned officers and other ranks who served in WWI and did not re-enlist in the Army prior to World War II. With the second release, this database now contains records for surnames beginning A-H. Full surname range coverage will be realised with future releases. Names falling outside of this range that are presently included in the database come from records that were misfiled according to surname sequence.

These records contain a variety of forms, including:

Attestation forms - the form completed by the individual on enlistment
Medical history forms
Casualty forms
Disability statements
Regimental conduct sheets
Proceedings on Discharge
Cover for Discharge Documents
Index Cards

Information available in these records includes:

Name of soldier
Marital status
Regimental number
Date of attestation
Physical description

On the first search I made in this collection this evening, I discovered a 22 page service record for my wife's great uncle, who had enlisted with the Connaught Rangers. We knew he had died in 1914, but we now know that he had in fact joined the army in 1902, served at least six years in India, and was disciplined on at least eight occasions! Most definitely worth a look at .


It looks like Ancestry may have been exaggerating again in their online source information for the collection, as the records that are online seem to mainly be from A-C just now, rather than A-H. But at least the ball has started rolling...

Got a link to Culloden?

The National Trust for Scotland is running a competition to try and trace youngsters (under 18) who may have had ancestors who fought at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

From their website -

"We are keen to trace some young people (under 18 years old) whose ancestors fought at the Battle of Culloden. Entrants should produce a family tree showing their family's involvement in the Battle - either on the Government or Jacobite side - or both. This can be hand written, presented in say a word document or provided as a print out from one of the genealogy website programmes or templates."

Winners will be asked to help the NTS open the new visitor centre at Culloden on 16 April 2008. The closing date for the competition is Wednesday 19 March 2008.

For more information, visit


Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People online archive set to launch

Soon to launch is a new online archive for the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People newspapers, with editions dating back to 1903.

The site is currently in its final testing phase, but keep an eye out for it's official launch in the very near future - the URL is


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Saughton Prison records at the NAS

Recently discovered records at Edinburgh's Saughton Prison can now be consulted at the National Archives of Scotland's West Register House. The prison opened in 1916, and amongst the records are prison registers from 1922 naming details of prisoners, which also include details of some escape attempts.


Ancestry launches World War One Medal Cards archive

Ancestry has just announced that it has uploaded 14 million World War One Medal Index card records onto its site, for soldiers (British and colonial) who served in the army from 1914 to 1922. The cards, held by the Western Front Assoiciation, were previously accessible at the National Archives website (Kew), but were in black and white, with only the front scanned. Now they are in colour, and both sides have been digitised.

"A testament to the bravery of 5.5 million soldiers and including many famous names such Academy Award winning actor Noel Coward, father of the last Viceroy of India Lord Mountbatten, and Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackelton, as well as that of the last surviving ‘Tommy’, Harry Patch, these records form the most comprehensive WW1 British and Colonial military collection still intact. In all, the collection contains the records for more than 14 million commendations."

For more information, read the full press release at


Ancestry have omitted one tiny piece of useful information from their press release folks! From the Western Front Association website, it is clear that this is in fact a phased release:

"The W.F.A. and are please to announce that the Great War Medal Index Cards are now available online... Over the coming months we will be providing full access to the Medal Index Cards on the WFA website, along with access to the complete and full archive. At the present time there is a limited access to the cards via the Ancestry website."

So if you can't find your relative yet, it is probably because the card has not been uploaded yet.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Tay Valley FHS talks series in Dundee

Tay Valley FHS are giving a series of free talks at Waterstones, 35 Commercial Street, Dundee:

Tuesday 26th February - The Mariners of Dundee
Thursday 13th March - Who do you think you are?
Thursday 20th March - AC Lamb, his book and his life

All talks start at 6 pm, are free of charge, and open to members and non-members alike.


Saturday, 16 February 2008

World's oldest woman

At 120 years old, Mrs Abash in Northern Israel has 410 descendants - 10 children, 120 grandchildren, 250 great-grandchildren, and 30 great-great-grandchildren.

That's a lot of birthdays to have to buy presents for...



Friday, 15 February 2008

English National Burial Index updated on Find My Past

About a million new National Burial Index entries for Somersetshire, Dorset and Essex have just been added to the Find My Past website.

For more information, visit


Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Ulster Historical Foundation increases its prices

Well I guess you can never charge too much for a good thing...

Just discovered the following recent announcement from the AncestryIreland website:

"The Ulster Historical Foundation is an educational, not-for-profit charity that receives no public funding. We keep our costs down to a minimum, and rely upon the goodwill of our volunteers and your custom in order to provide our services.

We have conducted a review of our prices, and unfortunately have to announce an increase in our charge for accessing our online birth, marriage and death records.

From 1 February 2008, the price will be £7 (£5 for Guild members) to view up to 5 full records from a single search of a particular birth, marriage or death record database. This is only the first time we have had to raise our charges for these databases.

We believe that this remains good value, especially for those with partial information about their ancestor. We would encourage you to take advantage of current prices, and hope that you will continue to look upon us to service your ancestral research needs in the future. "

Unbelievable, in my humble and very personal opinion! It should be noted that to qualify to pay the £5 Guild rate per record, as opposed to the £7 rate, you need to pay an annual subscription of £30 to join the Guild (yes, that is in Sterling!). It should also be noted that the "five full records" literally means for five records with the same name. So if you search for William Smith, your £7 will allow you to see five birth records for a William Smith. If you find who you are looking for on your first attempt, the credits are not transferable. There is an advanced search facility that allows searches by name, date, father's name and parish. Typically however, you only gain access to this after you have already paid your £7 after a basic search involving only a name and a year. In other words, you won't know if your William Smith, son of Ebenezer from Belfast, is on the system until after you have paid up front. If he isn't there, you at least have the consolation of getting to know about five other completely unrelated Billy Smiths...

This month's Your Family Tree magazine (issue 61) carries an opinion piece that I have written on the high prices of Irish content suppliers, but you can probably see where I am going with this...!


Updated: Contrast this with the English Federation of Family History Societies online website at Family History Online. FFHS is also a non-profit making charitable company. I have just spent the last three hours doing research for a client using this site. Each index entry on the database costs in the order of pennies (eight pence for a baptism lookup, for example). So far, for the cost of £5, I have confirmed about ten events, and looked up many others that I have discounted, and I still have about £2.50 to go.

To put into context, the cost of one Irish record is a little just under a hundred times the cost of one English record accessed on a similar site.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Freebies from TNA Kew

There's been a lot of talk about Spring coming early this year, and it certainly seems to be the case at Kew, where a major Spring clearout is currently underway.

Due to the relocation of records from the Family Record Centre in London to Kew, TNA has identified a series of microfilms and fiche that are now surplus to requirement, which they are offering to give away for free. Included are census returns, wills from the PCC, and much more.

You will not be able to apply for them until Feb 28th, but if interested, it is worth a look at

Good luck!


Monday, 11 February 2008

Practical Family History March 2008

The March edition of Practical Family History magazine has just gone on sale today in the UK and is packed with many great articles, including finding forebears in Bedfordshire, irregular and clandestine marriages, the Mechanised Transport Corps, the IGI, and much more.

Also included is the third and final part of my series on family history courses, which this month looks at acedemic courses, including the courses run by both Dundee and Strathclyde universities; and on the Scottish front, there is also news on the Scotland Online takeover of Find My Past and the new Dundee based family history centre.

That's issue 123 (March 2008) of Practical Family History, £3.30, from all God fearing news vendors...


Thursday, 7 February 2008

Women's Royal Air Force (1918) records go online

The National Archives has just placed the service records for 30,000 members of the Women's Royal Air Force online at their Documents Online site. The WRAF was formed on 1st April 1918, with many women signing up to serve as drivers and mechanics in France and Germany. This release covers those who served in 1918 only.

For more information, visit


Fred's dead baby. Fred's dead...

When I was a kid, I wrote a song with a friend of mine called "My Dog was Dead". It was never destined to win awards, or for that matter, the respect of my peers, but it did have a great catchy wee tune. The chorus went like this:

My dog was dead
My dog was dead
Goodbye Fred,
Cos Fred was dead.

It then went on for about twenty versus, in classic country and western style, cataloguing in terrible detail the poor end met by this mythical dog, and it is probably because of this one effort that I never became a songwriter.

However, somebody else who has seen the potential of a 'dead Fred' is the creator of the website, The idea of Dead Fred was to create a site for posting and locating identified and unidentified photos. Right now the site lists 14,521 surnames, with 75,245 photos, and 1,212 photo reunions.

If nothing else, it's a fun site to browse, so well worth a look!


Sunday, 3 February 2008

End of free online access to The Times

If you have been using the Bedfordshire Virtual Library's online access to The Times newspaper, the bad news is that the game is up!!! As of tomorrow (Mon 4 FEB), the library will no longer be giving access to its online Times collection, the Infotrac newspaper and journals collection, and the Gale Virtual Reference Library, unless you are a resident in Bedfordshire. This is because it has been brought to the library's attention that by giving universal access to its site to non-Bedfordshire residents, the library has actually been in breach of its licensing agreement with Cengage, the supplier.

Many local authorities have their own version of such an agreement, and so it is worth contacting your local library to see whether thay may have access. Alternatively, digitised editions of the Times from 1785 tto 1820 can be accessed for a premium at


Saturday, 2 February 2008

Scottish Women Chartists

Sue John, of the Women's Library in Glasgow, has made available online a list of women known to have been members of the Chartist movement in Scotland between 1838 and 1852.

Millions of people signed the three great Chartist petitions of 1839 to 1848, with thousands active in the campaign to win the vote, secret ballots, and other democratic rights that we now take for granted. A significant proportion were women, but they were seldom recorded in the media of the day. Sue has trawled many newspapers to find those that did make it into print, and her results can now be seen at the ChartistAncestors website, at