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.