Sunday 26 February 2012

Computer Basics for Genealogy

If you are interested in making your computer experience for genealogy more user-friendly, join me for a talk on Computer Basics for Genealogy on Sunday March 25th from 2 - 4 pm at the Brant Genealogy Society Library 114 Powerline Road, Brantford.

Topics covered will include:

  • Using/Comparing Genealogy Software
  • Creating and Uploading GEDCOM files
  • Mocavo Search Engine for genealogy
  • Genealogy In Time search engine, blog reader, twitter buzz and toolbar
  • Subscribing to RSS feeds
  • Keyboard short-cuts
Feel free to bring your questions so we can help make using a computer for genealogy easier for you.

Saturday 25 February 2012

Scottish Genealogy Workshop

We had a great day in Hamilton today with a jam packed day of researching scottish ancestry. For those that missed the talk, I will be in Kitchener at the KPL (Country Hills Branch) on March 19th starting at 6:30 pm.
The session is free. However, you are encouraged to call the library to reserve a spot (519-743-3558).

Thursday 23 February 2012

Records Updated at AncestryUK and FindMyPast

News out of London today, with the excitement around the Who Do You Think You Are?Live! Genealogy event happening, both AncestryUK and FindMyPast have updated their databases and added new collections.
Ancestry's additions involve the census records for the UK. Specifically, for the 1891 census, they have added new records to the England and Wales databases. The updates for the 1861 census records include Isle of Man, Channel Islands and England and the updates for 1911 are for England.

FindMyPast has added an update to their Merchant Seamen database.

Ancestry also has a promo on right now with a 6 month world deluxe subscription available for just $99. This is just a few dollars less than the regular subscription price, but is now only for 6 months instead of 12. World deluxe is not available on a month by month payment scheme, and many people balk at paying for the full subscription up front. This allows  you half the cost for half the time. At the end of the 6 months, if you do not cancel, you will be charged the full 12 month renewal fee.

Happy Searching!

The Itinerary for the Spring Tour is Now Confirmed.

We will be staying in Edinburgh. The hotel is the Residence Inn by Marriott in Edinburgh. This is located less than a mile from Scotland’s People Centre, the National Library and the Scottish Genealogy Society. Since our days at each of these places are long, the closeness of the hotel makes it easier for people to take a break and return to the hotel if they wish.

The Residence Inn is an “apart-hotel” which means that it has a full kitchen as well as a sleeping area. Given that we are away for 10 days, this will make it feel less like we are living out of a suitcase for the time we are away. The rooms are studio rooms with a bed, kitchen area (fridge, dishwasher and microwave) and an area where you can set up to do your research or have a “mini office” without having to have things all over the floor, dresser or bed. The rooms have wireless internet. There is a laundry room on the main floor of the hotel.  

A full hot/cold breakfast is available every morning. There are a number of eateries within a few blocks of the hotel. Two within a couple of blocks are the Witchery and the Tower. Both highly recommended. Some of the restaurants will deliver to the hotel residents free of charge. The hotel also offers a free grocery delivery service so that you can cook your own small meals or snacks should you prefer.

May 6th: this is a day of travel for you to get to Scotland (travel arrangements made on your own)

May 7th: The tour begins today. You will be met at the airport in Glasgow and will be taken to the hotel in Edinburgh. Please ensure I have your flight arrival details.
May 7th is a bank holiday. Banks, post offices and other government buildings will be closed. The afternoon will be free time to enjoy the city, take a city tour, or to rest after the long flight and 5 hour time change. The evening will be spent at the Taste Of Scotland Dinner show.

May 8th: Following breakfast, we will be taken over to the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. There are a number of computer terminals at the Mitchell and there is high speed Wi-Fi in some areas of the library should you choose to take your laptop. There is a café onsite for lunch and dinner. The café is open until 7:15 pm. We will be at the Mitchell until 8pm when it closes.

May 9th: Following breakfast, we will be taken to Scotland’s People Centre. Here we will enjoy a Family History Event, which is not only an introduction to the facility but a workshop on Scottish Research as well. Coffee and tea will be provided during this event, which will run the entire morning. Your research days are paid for as part of your tour fees. However, you will be on your own to pay for any copies you make or for saving images to your USB stick (the USB stick will be provided to you). Photocopies at Scotland's People Centre are £.50 and saves to the USB stick are £.30.  We will be at Scotland’s People Centre until 4:30 when we will return to the hotel. There is a café onsite for a light lunch. We return to Scotland’s People Centre at 6:30 for an evening of research. The café is not open at night.

May 10th: Following breakfast, we will return to the Mitchell in Glasgow for a full day of research.

May 11th: Following breakfast, we will return to Scotland’s People Centre for a full day of research. We will return to the hotel at 4:30. Anyone wishing to be away for the weekend to visit the place where their ancestors lived may get a head start on the Friday night if they wish.

The weekend is open for anyone wishing to travel or sightsee. There are a number of organized day tours leaving from Edinburgh for anyone wishing to join them. They can be booked once we are in Edinburgh (the tourist information is directly across the street from Scotland’s People Centre). Tours to the highlands are popular, as are trips to Stirling Castle, St Andrews or Roslin Chapel and the Scottish Borders. Most of the tours run about £30 – £40 for the day. Well worth the money.

For those choosing to stay in Edinburgh, I highly recommend the Edinburgh City Tours. They are on an open top, double decker bus. The best way to make use of the tour is to stay on for the full circuit (about an hour). Then, stay on the bus and travel to the attractions of interest. The tours are hop-on/hop-off so once you are finished at one attraction, you simply board the next bus and head to the next area of interest. Edinburgh Castle is a must see. However, it involves a lot of walking and the esplanade is cobblestone, which makes the walk a bit more difficult. The Royal Mile from the Castle to Holyrood House (the Queen’s residence when she is in Scotland) is amass with small shoppes, museums and closes (small, dark crowded streets) that offer a great day of history and discovery.

Edinburgh has a number of free museums.

On the main street in Edinburgh, Princes Street, there are the famed Gardens, shopping and the Scott monument. The Edinburgh City Tour tickets are £12 and are good for 24 hours, so you don’t need to rush to see everything on the first day.

Monday May 14th: Following breakfast, we will head to the Scottish Genealogy Society. The fees for your day are covered in your tour fees. The SGS has a subscription to both and FindMyPast. You will be able to access these subscriptions during our visit. The SGS also has records pre-1855 which will assist you in getting further back in your family tree. Here is a list of what is available to you:
We will be at the Scottish Genealogy Society from 10:30 – 5:30. We will return to the hotel and then get ready for dinner at Dalhousie Castle on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Dinner is in the Dungeon restaurant and will begin at 7 pm.

May 15th: Following breakfast, we will be taken to the National Library. Here we will have an overview of what resources are available followed by a tour of the public areas of the library. You will require a temporary library card in order to research here. You can do this ahead of time, if you wish at:
Many of the items are off site but can be made available to you if the Library is aware in advance that you will require them. Here is the link to see what is available:

We will be at the Library from 9:30 – 8:30. There is a café onsite for lunch and dinner. If you are interested in historic maps, they are in a separate building, joined by a walkway, which closes at 5pm. Again, you can contact the library ahead of time to make sure the items you are looking for will be available to you.

May 16th: Following breakfast, we will check out of the hotel and transfer back to Glasgow airport.

I am looking forward to our time in Scotland. Happy Researching!!

Thursday 16 February 2012

FindMyPast Adds Transcription of 1891 Census for Scotland

Word from FindMyPast this morning that they have added the transcriptions of the 1891 Scottish census records to their collection. The word is that the 1901 will be available on FindMyPast shortly. While the actual images are not available on FindMyPast, the transcriptions really are very good and far better than any other transcription service (including Ancestry). The information in the transcriptions includes all of the vital information needed to locate your ancestors and to learn more about their whereabouts, occupations, marital status, age, year and place of birth as well as their family composition.

You do not need a subscription to access these records. They are also available on a pay-per-view basis. Each view will cost you 5 credits. 60 credits can be purchased for £9.95 ($15.75 CDN/USD). These are good for 90 days and will allow you 12 transcription views. 


Happy Searching! 

Monday 13 February 2012

Ancestry UK Adding Scottish Valuation Rolls

News comes that is adding Valuation rolls for Scotland. At the moment, Perthshire valuation rolls are online at
Valuation rolls are helpful in between census periods and can add information such as year, description of property, name of owner, name of tenant and the value of the property.

Happy Searching!

Friday 10 February 2012

British Newspaper Archive Introduces 7 Day Credit System

The British Newspaper Archive has responded to consumer suggestions and now has a 7 day package. This allows people to have a weekend to search, regardless of when the package is purchased. The 7 day package allows 600 credits and costs just under £10 ($15 Canadian/ $13 USD).

Here's the link to get you started:

Happy Searching!

Friday 3 February 2012

Island of Wings - The Early St Kildans

I recently read a brilliant book, Island of Wings. It is the story of Neil McKenzie and his wife, Lizzie, who left mainland Scotland for St Kilda where Neil was to be one of the last ministers on the island.

The book provides a rare insight into early life on the island of St Kilda in the generations prior to their evacuation and repatriation to the mainland. It is hard to comprehend that the islanders lived for hundreds of years a life unchanged from their ancestors before them. Seabirds were the main staple. The winters were ferocious and added to further isolation. It was common for children to die within the first 8 days of their lives. The islanders lived in hovels with dirt floors, no windows and the inside entrance-way was used as the family toilet for the winter months. Yet through it all there is a wonderful sense of community, resilience of spirit and reverence for those that lived before them. The book is a truly insightful look at the social history of this remote island.

Island of Wings is available from Chapters or Amazon for about $17.

Happy searching reading!