Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Blog moved

This blog has now moved to my own website. If you'd like to see how it develops, it's now at

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Some record offices to get free access to 1911 census

The National Archives (TNA) has just announced that seven record offices across England and Wales will get free access to the 1911 census for England and Wales.

The record offices are in:
  • Birmingham
  • Exeter
  • Aberystwyth
  • Manchester
  • Norwich
  • Nottingham
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
See for the full story.

The full 1911 census is available on a pay-per-view basis through

Still no news about when the 1911 records will be added to the site though.


Friday, 10 July 2009

Stirling ancestors?

If you've ancestors from Stirling you might find this useful.

The Old Town Cemetery in Stirling has just undergone a £1.7 million refurbishment. The Old Town Cemetery is at the Top of the Town in Stirling, just below the castle and the Esplanade of Stirling Castle forms its Eastern boundary.

The cemetery expanded outwards from the old Holy Rude Kirkyard between 1857-1859 and, unusually, it is laid out as a pleasure ground for the locals as well as a burial ground. The full story is in the Stirling Observer and there's also a website for the cemetery which includes a map and details of some of the monuments and gravestones at


Thursday, 21 May 2009

Transcribing digital images

Thanks to Alex over at winging it, I've discovered some free software to help with transcribing text from the digitised images of records that we're all using now

It's called Transcript and displays the digitised image in the top half of the screen and an RTF text editor in the bottom half so it's far easier to transcribe. You can even set it up to scroll down the image automatically every time you hit the "Enter" key or as the text wraps at the end of each line.

Guess what I've been doing today!


Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Scottish OPR burials are online

The Scottish Old Parish Register deaths and burials are now online - a day before planned. ScotlandsPeople has comprehensive guidance notes about these records on their site at

And I've got a meeting in London tomorrow, and another commitment tomorrow night - rats!


Friday, 27 March 2009

Scottish OPR burials due online on 1 April

I was looking at the Glasgow-based newspaper The Herald for a Scottish take on the new London records released on Ancestry (covered in my previous post) when I came across this throwaway comment:

On April 1, the final tranche of the old parish registers, death records for the period 1553-1854, will go online.
Hurrah! Guess what I'll be doing on Wednesday!

London Metropolitan Archives' records start to go online at Ancestry

Indexes to, and digital images of, the records held by London Metropolitan Archives have started to appear online at Ancestry.

The whole collection spans over 400 years from the 1500s to the 1900s and covers parish baptism and marriage registers, burial registers, Bishops' Transcripts, Non-conformist baptisms, marriages and burials, poor law Board of Guardians records, school admissions and discharge registers, electoral registers and poll books, land tax documents, Surrey marriage bonds and allegations, wills, transportation records from the Middlesex Sessions of the Peace, Diocesan marriage bonds and allegations, Diocesan divorce exhibita and City of London Freedoms. The full collection is due to appear gradually over the next year.

At the moment the online data covers the poor law Board of Guardians Births and Baptisms 1834-1934 and the poor law Board of Guardians Deaths and Burials collection 1834-1906. The London boroughs covered are:

Tower Hamlets

You will need either a premium or worldwide subscription to view the data.

See the full details at


Thursday, 26 March 2009

Italian family searching for relatives of the British soldier who saved their mother's life

An Italian family is searching for relatives of a British soldier who saved their mother's life during WWII.

In January 1944, the pregnant Maria Mancini from the Abruzzo region of Italy needed emergency medical treatment to save her life. A British soldier called Martin drove her to hospital in his jeep through snowstorms and across mined roads.

After an emergency cesearian section, Mrs Mancini gave birth to twin girls. Sadly one of them died a week later. Martin continued to visit Mrs Mancini in hospital, they became friends and he gave her a photo of his own two daughters.

Just after Mrs Mancini and her daughter were released from hospital, Martin was killed in action.

Mrs Mancini remembered and often told the story of Martin's kindness and friendship to her family. Unfortunately she never knew his surname.

Her daughter, Angela, and her granddaughter are now searching for the two children in Martin's photo.

Are you, or is one of your relatives, one of these girls. Check the photo and the full story on the Telegraph website at


Monday, 2 February 2009

Who Do You Think You Are? New Series

A new series of Who Do You Think You Are? starts tonight at 9pm on BBC1. The celebrities to be featured are:
  • Rory Bremner
  • Fiona Bruce
  • Rick Stein
  • Zoe Wanamaker
  • Kevin Whately

and you can see the "teasers" about them on the series' website at Past series have managed to find a celebrity to fit into the English, Scottish, Irish, Afro-Caribbean, Asian, Military, Jewish and aristocratic research categories. Who's going to fit into each slot this time?

And will this new series lead to a further flush of enthusiastic newcomers starting to research their family trees?

The world of online genealogy has changed dramatically since the first series, broadcast in 2004, caused delays to the GRO's online ordering service and the amount of media coverage given to the commercial outfits has grown.

But what about the family history societies? In theory the big Who Do You Think You Are? Live show at Olympia at the end of February should help them tap into this new audience, but in practice the number of "traditional" societies attending seems to be declining. Gossip suggests that this is because the costs are too high. How can smaller societies connect with new researchers? What is your society doing? Should they even try?


New Year ..... New Data

London is currently shivering under a thick layer of snow

which, according to the news, is the heaviest for 18 years. So this seems like a good time for an update on some of the new data that's appeared online since Christmas.

First of all was the addition of Counties Antrim, Down and Kerry to the 1911 census for Ireland at which were added to the existing records for Dublin on 23 December 2008.

Next came the annual upload of new data on Scotlandspeople. We can now view the images of the registers of births for 1855-1908, marriages 1855-1933 and deaths 1855-1958 at

The current big excitement is the 1911 census for England and Wales which went live on 14 January at They have gradually added to the number of counties available and currently the whole of England except for Cumberland, Westmorland, Northumberland, Durham and the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire are available. Wales has still to be added. To check on progress and find out about enhancements to the search facilities as they are added, read the blog at

A less well publicised launch was the addition of the civil registration indexes for Ireland which are available on the Familysearch Record Search pilot site at Irish civil registration indexes begin in 1845 for Protestant marriages. Civil registration indexes for births, deaths and all marriages begin in 1864. The available indexes cover all of Ireland from 1845/1864 to 1922 and the Republic of Ireland from 1923-1958. As the General Register Office for Northern Ireland has an online certificate ordering facility at and the General Register office for Ireland has downloadable order forms at ordering Irish certificates has now become much easier.