Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Carleton University: Learning in Retirement

The programs for the two fall sessions of Carleton University's Learning in Retirement are now available for registration. Note the series on the basics of genealogy being offered in the second session.

Fall 2014 – Session I (September 9th – October 20th) offers the following ten lecture series:

Women and Islam
Truth and Propaganda
Art and Architecture in Ancient Greece
Flash-Focus on Carleton University’s Art Gallery: The McAllister Johnson Collection
Brain and Behaviour
The Art of Dropping Out
Environment and History: An Introduction to Our Evolving Place on Earth
Raiders, Traders and Explorers: A History of Viking Expansion
Best of Ballet
A Brief History of the Cold War

Fall 2014 – Session II (October 27th – December 5th) offers the following eleven lecture series:

Canada’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites
We Shall Overcome: The Civil Rights Movement Through Song
Gold in the Darkness: Studies in Early Christian and Byzantine Visual Art
Flash-Focus on Carleton University’s Art Gallery: Landscape in a Canadian Context
From Longhouse to Lumber to Legislation: An Anecdotal History of Ottawa
Vino e Pasta: Regional Wines and Foods of Italy
Leisure in Britain: 1750 to 1950
Who Were the Vikings? A Look Into the Society and Culture of the Viking Age
A Walk Through Canadian Art - Lecture Series FULL
Who Do You Think You Are? The Basics of Genealogy
Getting to Know Your Brain: Current Topics in Neuroscience

Take a search refresher

Plunking a search term into Google will often get you a long way, or at least a lot!  Sometimes you need more. I've mentioned sources for more advanced searching before. There's a recent refresher, and update as protocols do change from time to time, at How to Find Anything Online With Advanced Search Techniques.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Ancestry IS watching you!

Did you know that Ancestry, as part of its mission to "facilitate discovery of relevant person’s records and the construction of family trees," watches the search terms you enter and analyses them to improve their overall search?
If you enter a last name Ancestry compares it to your searches in the next 30 minutes identifying pairings as possible name variants.
Ancestry also finds pairings by looking at your trees and comparing names to those in the records you attach.
The company uses a method analogous to machine language translation to refine the pairings.
Read a full report here, not for the faint of heart, and a less-technical summary here.

Every Man Remembered

It's never been easier to enshrine the memory of WW1 generation service, even a century later.

The latest, reported by the BBC, is the Every Man Remembered database from the Royal British Legion that allows people to commemorate relatives or someone they knew, or find a person for whom no-one has yet left a tribute. Despite the use of the word Man the project covers every serviceman and woman who died in World War One, and not just British forces. Those from every Commonwealth country are included, a total of 1,117,077 service personnel.
You can add a summary and longer story. Strangely the word kill is forbidden, replaced by asterisks so that skill becomes s****. The site asks for a donation, £10 to "buy a poppy" or more.

Everybody's doing it, and seeking funds. There's the previously mentioned Imperial War Museum's "Lives of the First World War" project. For Canadians who died information can be added to the Canadian Virtual War Memorial - without any donation requested.


Monday, 28 July 2014

Paul Marsden on digitizing Canadian WW1 service files

Library and Archives Canada military archivist Paul Marsden was interviewed on Monday on Canada AM regarding LAC's project to digitize complete WW1 service files. See it at http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=405489&playlistId=1.1935214&binId=1.815908&playlistPageNum=1

Paul with be giving part of a pre-conference seminar on the afternoon of Friday, 19 September at the BIFHSGO conference.

University of Toronto and WW1

As did many universities in combatant countries the University of Toronto was a significant source of soldiers for the First World War. They came from students, faculty, and graduates. As the war progressed the University also played a role in training, notably for the Royal Flying Corps.

Find out more about the University's role at http://news.utoronto.ca/memoriam-remembering-first-world-war-u-t

On July 31 U of T's Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History and the Munk School of Global Affairs, with support from the Canadian Armed Forces present: 1914-1918: In Memoriam, an event that will commemorate the sacrifice of Canadian men and women in World War I with distinctive military band performances, military formations, and commentaries. (Sign up for free tickets.)

If your ancestor who served during the war was associated with a University it may be worthwhile checking their website, perhaps digging into the University archives website.

Experience counts in genealogy search

The results of the survey on ease of search on genealogy databases are in.

Those who responded to the survey, 71% of whom were female, had a lot of genealogy search experience. 43% had more than 10 years of frequent use; 14% more than 10 years of occasional use; 30% had 5 to 10 years of frequent use.
6% of respondents fully agreed that genealogical databases at Ancestry, FamilySearch and findmypast are generally easy to use. 71% somewhat agreed with that statement.

To the statement Ancestry, FamilySearch and findmypast provide adequate instructional material to permit making good use of their service only 4% expressed full agreement while 62% felt that "most do, some don't."
Of all those responding 93% selected experience [trial and error] as the best means they had used to improve overall search skills. Magazine articles [61%], and conference presentations [58%] also was selected by more than 50% of respondents.
41% fully agreed that standards are needed for genealogy search so that you don't need to learn different search techniques for each database or database supplier. Another 36% somewhat agreed.

The reliance of long-time genealogical database users on their experience suggests a reason for strongly negative reactions to changes in search. Both Ancestry and findmypast have experienced this in recent years. 

Start of the Great War

A century ago on this date, July 28 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war against Serbia starting, in terms of nation to nation conflict, a tragic chain of events.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Québec and WW1

As someone who never studied Canadian history at school the WW1 conscription crisis in Québec is something of a puzzle for me. I was at school in England and I don't recall the Great War being a topic in history classes, it was too recent.

An article Quebec’s conscription crisis divided French and English Canada has helped fill the gap in my education.

“In Quebec, Vimy means absolutely nothing to people. But for Quebec francophones with a bit of education, the First World War was about the conscription crisis.” “For French-Canadians, it’s a marker of identity, and also of pride, for having resisted”

Untold stories of the war

From The Guardian, a dozen short articles by writers including Jeremy Paxman, Michael Morpurgo and Margaret MacMillan telling some of the surprising and heart-rending stories still emerging from the conflict a century later.
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jul/26/untold-stories-first-world-war-leading-writers

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Debbie Kennett debunks genetic astrology

DNA can be interpreted to enable major breakthroughs in family history, but can also be over interpreted. There is no regulation or professional standard to rely on; it's caveat emptor.

BIFHSGO conference speaker Debbie Kennett has reproduced the full text of a letter which was published in part in the August Family Tree Magazine. http://cruwys.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/my-letter-in-family-tree-magazine-about.html.

For a more comprehensive treatment see the website Debbie has worked on with colleagues at University College London: www.ucl.ac.uk/mace-lab/debunking.

Canadiana seeks feedback to improve genealogy collections

The following is from Canadiana.

"Over the past few months, Canadiana.org has partnered with Library and Archives Canada on a massive project to digitize 40,000 reels of microfilm from Canada's most important archival collections. This project, known as Héritage, will comprise 60 million page images when digitization is completed next year.

Much of the Héritage collection will be of interest to genealogists. Canadiana would like to enhance access to this content by partially transcribing select collections. Once transcribed, researchers can conduct key-word searches on a collection, allowing them to find specific personal names, geographical locations, events, etc. within a document.

We need your help in choosing which collections to transcribe first. By participating in this short survey, you can have a voice in telling Canadiana which collections are important to you."

35 datasets are included.

It's clear they need help. One database is described as
Edwardsburg Township (Ontario) fonds, 1801 & 1818 This collection consists of a births, marriages and deaths register for the current-day Prince Edward Island, then known as Île St Jean, dating from 1724 to 1758.
The detailed description makes it clear it has nothing to do with PEI!
Edwardsburgh/Cardinal is a township in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville in eastern Ontario. The township was formed in 2001 through the amalgamation of Edwardsburgh Township with the Village of Cardinal. It currently has a population of about 6,500 residents. The township borders the St. Lawrence River Seaway to the south. Early settlers to the region included the Irish, Scottish and United Empire Loyalists.
This collection consists of Upper Canada census returns and related records for Edwardsburg Township in Grenville County in 1801 and 1818, Elizabethtown in 1818, Johnstown District in 1822, Oxford-on-the-Rideau Township in 1841 and 1842, Westminster Township in 1840, and Woodhouse Township in 1812, 1827 and 1829.
Only heads of families are listed.

Thanks to Bruce Elliott for the tip.