Monday, 1 September 2014

Rockstar Genealogists 2014: Who You You Think They Are?

It's nomination time for the 2014 Rockstar Genealogist survey.

Rockstar genealogists are those who give "must attend" presentations at family history conferences or as webinars. Who, when you see a new family history article or publication by that person, makes it a must buy. Who you hang on their every word on a blog, podcast or newsgroup, or follow avidly on Facebook or Twitter?

Voting for 2014 Rockstar Genealogists, the third annual, gets underway soon.

Based on last year's voting, and other input, the following is a list of those already nominated, in alphabetical order. No doubt some are missed. If you have additional suggestions please send a nomination in a comment by 6 September.

Despite this open invitation every year I get comments, too late, along the lines of "how could you possibly have missed Mary Bloggs?" If you have a blog or do social media please let your readers know of this nomination opportunity, and let them know when voting starts in about a week.

Lisa Alzo
Lesley Anderson
Jen Baldwin
Jill Ball
Nick Barratt
Claire Bettag
Kyle Betit
Warren Bittner
Paul Blake
Katherine Borges
Diane Boumenot
Jana Sloan Broglin
Ruth Burkholder
Peter Calver
Paul Carter
Pauleen Cass
Else Churchill
John Philip Colletta
Audrey Collins
Lisa Louise Cooke
Crista Cowen
Jackie Depelle
Gail Dever
Richard M Doherty
Marie Dougan
Bruce Durie
Dick Eastman
Roberta Estes
Kerry Farmer
Colleen Fitzpatrick
Angela Gallagher
Michael Gandy
Heather Garnsey
Maurice Gleeson
Jan Gow
Kirsty Gray
John Grenham
Bennett Greenspan
Diane Haddad
Michael Hait
John Hanson
Alison Hare
Celia Heritage
Jean Wilcox Hibben
Shauna Hicks
Yvette Hoitink
Daniel Horowitz
Cyndi Ingle
Sherry Irvine
Tim Janzen
Hank Z. Jones
Tamura Jones
Thomas W. Jones
Debbie Kennett
Martyn Killion
Turi King
Eric Kopittke
Michael J. Leclerc
J. Mark Lowe
Dan Lynch
Thomas MacEntee
Jane MacNamara
Ken McKinlay
Leland Meitzler
Brenda Dougall Merriman
Elizabeth Shown Mills
Paul Milner
CeCe Moore
George G. Morgan
Rosemary Morgan
Stephen P. Morse
Janice Nickerson
Diane Nolin
Dave Obee
Beryl O'Gorman
Gena Philibert Ortega
Frances Owen
Chris Paton
Marian Pierre-Louis
Elissa Scalise Powell
Kimberly Powell
Laura Prescott
Marian Press
Terrence Punch
Geoff Rasmussen
Linda Reid
David Rencher
Pat Richley-Erickson
Christine Rose
William Roulston
Judy G. Russell
Claire Santry
Gary Schroder
Craig Scott
Randy Seaver
Sharon Sergeant
Drew Smith
Megan Smolenyak
Louise St. Denis
Roy Stockdill
Paula Stuart-Warren
Geoff Swinfield
Loretto Szucs
James Tanner
D. Joshua Taylor
Maureen Taylor
James F.S. Thomson
John Titford
Alec Tritton
Helen Tovey
Sylvie Tremblay
Judy Webster
Sharn White
Curt B. Witcher
Russ Worthington
Glenn Wright

Benchmarks update for August

Even if August is a quiet month in the family history world there has been some movement. has added or updated record collections for a total of 1,804 (1,794). Census & lists account for 159 (154); birth, marriage, & death 1,057 (1,049); probate & court 182 (184); military 123 (124); migration & naturalization 124 (124); and with a change in categories, other 142 (142); miscellaneous 17 (16). edged up in Alexa rank 4,239 (4,242).

Ancestry sites all advanced in rank: the .com site 651 (688); the site 6,138, (7,827) and the .ca 22,127,(23,618). The number of datasets in the collection grew to 32,375 (32,363); including 1,981 (1,981) for Canada, 1,811 (1,806) for the UK, 141 (139) for Australia and, 25,679 (25,674 ) for the USA.'s Alexa rank declined to 7,666 (6,400). slipped further in Alexa rank to 18,625 (15,997) while .com made another healthly gain to 69,406 (75,169).

Alexa rank for rose to 401,780 (429,924).

Family Tree DNA slipped again in rank to 32,161 (29,479) while claiming a total of 696,851  (693,810) records. 23andMe at 15,923 (15,285) continued its decline since the FDA halt to its personal genetics health business. ranked 26,466 (30,307) ; 27,594 (29,429) and, 31,460 (31,239). contains 8,572,037 (8,412,982) digitized pages, an average addition of 5,131 (5,062) pages per day. Alexa rank 110,925 (131,799). contains 3,289 (3,252) newspapers including 669,469 (669,141) pages for England and 1,672,744 (1,611,611) pages for Canada. The Alexa rank continued a rapid advanced to 17,321 (21,001). claims  332,447 (332,819) total links in 204 (204) categories, with 990 (990) uncategorized; Alexa rank continued to advance to 30,076 (33,336). quietly added records mid-month, now with 240,217,566  (238,293,287) distinct records. Years will more than 5,000 records added in 2 months were, for births 1940, 1943, 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964-66, 1969-73; for marriages 1962, 1964-66, 1968-73; for deaths 1970-71, 1973. Alexa rank 51,004 (49,360). has 948,000 (920,000) gravestone photo records from across Canada. Alexa rank is 455,376 (443,628). crept up in rank 566,691 (568,964). The Canadian Gravemarker Gallery (, with over 854,000 (849,000) photographs from across Canada, declined to 6,748,685 (6,655,434) on Alexa.

Among Canadian family history societies ranked 2,455,914 (3,694,712), 6,716,891 (-), and 448,063 (417,298).
In the US, ranked 474,862 (458,128), ranked 82,246 (98,663), tumbled to rank 877,999 (591,619).
In the UK, ranked 546,878 (632,638).

And in case you're curious, Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections has 5,877 (5,807) posts; on Alexa the .ca site ranked 249,917 (285,046).

Did I miss something significant? If so please post a comment with statistics if applicable.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Ireland census 1821 to 1851

FamilySearch make available remaining parts and extracts of these early Irish censuses with an index developed by findmypast. Browse images are organized by county, pariah parish and townland.
For 1821 there are 275,103 records in 10,459 images covering Mayo, Antrim, Carlow, Cavan, Dublin, Fermanagh, Galway, Kilkenny, King's, Limerick, Meath and Unknown.
For 1831 there are 80,338 records in 3,818 images, mainly from Londonderry, with a few from Antrim and Unknown.
For 1841 there are 15,850 records in 2,358 images, a few parishes in each from Mayo, Antrim, Carlow, Cavan, Cork, Down, Dublin, Fermanagh, Limerick, Longford, Meath, Monaghan, Queen's, Tipperary. Tyrone. Waterford, Westmeath, Wicklow, Unknown.
For 1851 there are 58,795 records in 9,450 images from Mayo, Antrim, Armagh, Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Donegal, Down, Down - Part 2, Dublin, Fermanagh, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Leitrim, Limerick, Londonderry, Longford, Mayo - Part 3, Meath, Monaghan, Queen's, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Tyrone, Waterford, Wexford, Wicklow, Unknown, Unknown - Part 9.
Also made available on FamilySearch are 136,152 records from Ireland,1841 and 1851 Census Search Forms compiled for purposes of verification of birth. The contain the applicant's name, address, residence in 1851 with county, barony, parish, townland and street as well as the parent's names and head of household in 1851.

FamilySearch adds New Brunswick, County Birth Registers, ca. 1812-1919

There's a new way to access New Brunswick, County Birth Registers, ca. 1812-1919, through FamilySearch. These browse images, not as extensive as the title suggests, cover the counties of Gloucester (1851-1907) , Northumberland (1888), Restigouche (1888-1917), Saint John (1888-1905), Victoria (1888), Westmorland (1888) and York (1888). They are from the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick.

Don't overlook the new records added to the PANB site in August: City of Fredericton Burial Permit Listing with 1,497 records and; County Council Marriage Records, 1826-1887 with 41,062 records.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Newspaper news

What do Australia, Finland, Russia, Vietnam and the United States have that Canada doesn't? The answer, according to this blog post, historic/old digitised newspaper sites that offer public text correction/transcription. Pioneered by the National Library of Australia on the Trove site crowd-sourcing OCR correction is catching on.
Meanwhile OCR capabilities for old newspaper digitization are improving slowly. A paper from UC Berkeley claims to achieve a word error rate of 25.6 compared to 49.2 for ABBYY Fine Reader a widely used commercial product.

Will parliament return the long-form census?

Lots of genealogists will cheer to learn that Ted Hsu, MP for Kingston and the Islands, has put forward a private member’s bill to protect the independence of Statistics Canada and reinstate the long-form census. Now that we know the replacement survey cost more to provide less statistically valid data data it only makes sense.
Or does it? Another Ottawa Citizen article reports that Statistics Canada is exploring compiling a virtual census from a variety of databases. Although a couple of censuses away, and if privacy concerns can be addressed, the agency leaders believes major costs could be saved - although no consideration of genealogical requirements appears to have been given.

BIFHSGO Conference: Debbie Kennett blog

Debbie Kennett who is coming to the BIFHSGO conference, 19-21 September writes a blog characterized as "The day-to-day activities of the Cruwys/Cruse one-name study with occasional diversions into other topics of interest such as DNA testing and personal genomics."

If you subscribe you won't be overwhelmed with posts, just three in August so far. Two of them are DNA related; the emphasis has shifted from the Cruwys name at the start in April 2007 to genetic genealogy now. Following Debbie's blog is an excellent way to keep up with developments in genetic genealogy - with a British perspective.

Find the blog, plus information of Debbie's books and publications, at

Friday, 29 August 2014

WDYTYA: Minnie Driver and Brendan O'Carroll

Less than 5 min. into Wednesday evening's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? on cable channel TLC actress Minnie Driver found her way from Los Angeles to London and the hidden story of her father's Second World War heroism while in the RAF. Researching his parents, and tracing forward to descendants of living siblings illustrated how much easier genealogical searching is in England and Wales with open access, at a price, to national BMD records than in Canada or the US where they are held on the sub-national level and subject to long embargo periods.

The BBC episode on Thursday evening took place in Ireland and featured comedian Brendan O'Carroll trying to get to the truth behind the 1920 murder of his grandfather during the civil war just prior to independence. It was a fascinating if not very typical Who Do You Think You Are? episode, more like CSI. To O'Carroll's surprise the identity of the likely murderer, according to IRA sources, was revealed. One criticism, a segment showed O'Carroll supposedly searching a newspaper on microfilm, an almost laughably casual approach, flipping through images which in most cases would lead to missing vital information.

BIFHSGO conference: Paul Milner blog

Paul Milner who is coming to the BIFHSGO conference, 19-21 September, writes a blog which highlights British Isles research, resources and book reviews, and occasionally his own ancestors.

Recent Posts have included a three part series on search techniques for the findmypast website, the Guardian newspaper collection of Untold Stories of World War One and, a book review of Tracing your Army Ancestors. Second Edition, by Simon Fowler.

These and earlier articles, back to February last year, are found at

Think Rootstech 2015

Registration for Rootstech 2015 is open. The event runs February 11–14 in Salt Lake City, Utah and will be even better as it teams up with The Federation of Genealogical Societies 2015 conference to offer "two great conferences in one great venue."
Despite the hype that it's a global conference, and there are many attendees from outside the US,RootsTech, like FGS, is US-dominated. There's lots that isn't county-specific.

If you need convincing check out nineteen videos from the 2014 Rootstech.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Free Ancestry Labour Day weekend access

The following is from .

"In honour of Labour Day, from August 28 to September 1, is offering free access to all FamilySearch API records, which includes 1 billion records from 67 countries (nearly 200,000 records and more than 2 million images from Canada), so Canadians can discover more about their family’s working history. Visit

Clara Florence Webster rarely spoke about her life during WWI, and it wasn’t until her granddaughter Laurie Marshall was an adult that she shared her remarkable story with her. Until then, Laurie had no idea how brave her grandmother was.

A young woman in her early twenties, Clara helped the war effort by working in a munitions factory. Clara along with the other women in munitions factories in England, also known as munitionettes, produced 80 per cent of the artillery shells and bombs used by the British Army. Clara was one of the 1.6 million British women to join the workforce between 1914 and 1918. In Canada it is estimated that 35,000 women entered the work force during the war in occupations that were generally the domain of men.

Clara and the other women faced many dangers while working in the factory including working with poisonous substances and regularly being interrupted by blackout protocols. During a blackout the factory would go into immediate shutdown and all lights, machinery and assembly lines would be turned off. The women would have to remain completely quiet because the German Zeppelins overhead were specifically looking for them in hope of locating and bombing the factories building artillery. A boring day at work for Clara was a good day!

“I am still in awe of my grandmother and the risks she took during the First World War. She was so brave to put herself in so much danger, but she worked in the munitions factory because it was a job that needed to be done,” said Laurie Marshall. “ has helped me discover so many little details about her that I never knew such as her birth, marriage and immigration stories.”

Clara immigrated to Canada in 1927, paying her own passage and with just $150 in her pocket. Two days after her arrival she married Thomas Steele in Simcoe, Ontario."

Family Tree DNA End of Summer Sale on Y-DNA Tests and Upgrades!

The #1 piece of advice for those contemplating a DNA test with Family Tree DNA is to wait for a sale. They come along frequently. There's currently a sale on Y-DNA tests including upgrades, combo tests and the Big Y test. It ends 3 September. See the details at

BCG offers webinars

The following is from an announcement by the (US) Board for Certification of Genealogists at
"The Board for Certification of Genealogists believes in education and would like to share with the public some of the expertise represented in BCG through a series of webinars.
Open to everyone who wants to improve their skills, these live webinars are set for 8 pm Eastern for the following dates:
Monday, September 22, Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, will present "Fine Wine in a New Bottle: Guidelines for Effective Research and Family Histories." Updated, retitled, and reorganized, genealogy standards first published in 2000 are now available in a new edition. The webinar will describe the changes and what they mean for all family historians. Dr. Jones teaches at three genealogy institutes, co-edits the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, and is the author of Mastering Genealogical Proof.
To register for the September 22 webinar, please use this link:
On Wednesday, October 15, Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL, will explain "Kinship Determination: From Generation to Generation." Requirement 7 of the BCG certification application asks for a Kinship Determination Project in which the applicant writes a three-generation narrative and explains how the relationships are documented. All genealogists do this regularly while placing relatives with their appropriate connections in the family tree. A familiar speaker at conferences across the country, Judy will coordinate the Advanced Methodology & Evidence Analysis course at the Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research in 2015.
To register for the October 15 webinar, please use this link:
Look for future announcements on other upcoming webinars on this blog. You may sign up on the sidebar for email notifications when a new post is written."

New and Updated on Ancestry

Recent British changes on Ancestry are:

- Warwickshire, England, Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1535-1812 is updated to contain 1,020,588  records linked to images of the originals. That's a decrease of about 4,000 records from the update in early May! The records are from the Warwickshire Anglican Registers. Warwick, England: Warwickshire County Record Office.

- 1891 Wales Census updated to contain 1,760,678 records. The images are from The National Archives of the UK (TNA).

- a new dataset: UK, Select Cemetery Registers, 1916-2012 contains indexed data from 16,093 burials at Magdalen Hill Cemetery, Hampshire, England. Images of the original register of burials are linked. "During World War I and World War II, Winchester was home to the regimental depots of the Royal Hampshire Regiment, the Rifle Brigade, and the King's Royal Rifle Corps. The cemetery has a war graves plot, and more than 37 World War I soldiers and 65 World War II soldiers are buried in the cemetery."

- Web: UK, Campaign Medals Awarded to WWI Merchant Seamen, 1914-1925. Search these records held at TNA with link to the originals at TNA's Discovery site.