Friday, May 30, 2014

New to

Launched in April, The West Yorkshire Collection provides details of more than 9,000 boys who were sent to reformatory schools in the county, including the East Moore Community Home School, The Shadwell Children’s Centre and Calder Farm Reformatory.
Fully searchable, the digitised documents note down the boy’s name, age and birthplace, with many also containing photographs, physical descriptions and comments on their behaviour.
Dating from 1856 to 1914, the records hail from a period when the idea of reform was gaining widespread traction. Rather than spending time behind bars, it was felt that reform school was a more appropriate place to send young offenders.
The youth offender records are joined by nearly 400,000 records relating to adult prisoners spanning 1801 to 1914.  Details on each inmate’s age, name, occupation, offence, sentence and dates of admission and discharge are noted, with selected records also containing prisoners’ background information and physical descriptions. In addition to the adult and youth offender records, The West Yorkshire Collection contains more than 32,000 historic police records and 3,000 registers relating to local militia, all of which have been digitised from original documents held at branches of West Yorkshire Archive Service. Explore The West Yorkshire Collection at your local library using Ancestry Library Edition.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

WW1 Unit War Diaries

The National Archives has released a third batch of 724 digitised First World War unit war diaries from France and Flanders available online via their First World War 100 portal.
The unit war diaries provide interesting accounts of battles and events, as well as insights into the daily routines of British troops on the Western Front.
What's included
This third release contains the diaries from the Kitchener Divisions and those of the Territorial Force (later The Territorial Army). This includes:
  • the 36th (Ulster) Division, which had many casualties on 1 July 1916
  • the 66th (2nd East Lancashire) Division, which was the last division to leave the UK for France in March 1917
Also included in the diaries are accounts of troops' sports activities (WO 95/2524) which helped keep them motivated and continue fighting until the end of the war.
William Spencer, author and principal military records specialist at The National Archives, said: 'Now that this latest batch of unit war diaries is online, people all around the world can read the official army accounts to discover more about the troops on the Western Front. The diaries note successful battles, such as 46th Division breaking the Hindenburg Line, as well as failures and casualties in key battles such as those on the Somme in 1916. They also provide rare insights into how the troops maintained the environment in the trenches as well as the sports days which helped to keep them motivated.'
Highlights from the files
Highlights from the third batch of unit war diaries include:
  • a sports day programme dated 31 October 1917, which notes pillow fighting, wheelbarrow races and wrestling on mules
  • sketch of a 'snapshot' view from the front (which notes 'dead animals' and even a 'dead Frenchman')
  • two photos giving a 'how to' and 'how not to' guide to laying trench boards 
  • three photos of battalion officers from 7th Battalion Black Watch Fife

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Irish Directories Database

The Irish Directories database consists of over 550 links to Historic Directories of Ireland, available on free and subscription websites, and also includes directories for purchase on CD or download. Sources charging for access, or items for purchase are indicated with a $. Details shown include directory date, title and a direct link to relevant website. Online directories may be available as transcripts, ebooks (pdf, FlipBook etc), images or searchable databases.

To start a search, enter one or more keywords in the search text and click the search button above, or select one of the county or date dropdown filters. Searches can include any combination of key words, county or dates.

Historic Directories can be useful sources for Family and Local history research, and whilst not listing all people or locations, often include details of various institutions, officials, professions, clergy and certain trades, as well as historical or geographic details of various towns and cities. Directories which cover cities and larger towns, may also include street listings.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

52 Weeks of Genealogy - Week 16 - Naturalization

Shauna's topic for Week 16 is Naturalization and Citizenship Records.  While most of my ancestors come from various parts of Great Britain, one branch of my mother's family are German, and I do have their Naturalization certificates.
Friedrich (Frederick) Carl Beseler was born in Germany in 1810.  He married Suatus Caroline Farkens on 17 July 1838 and emigrated to Australia in 1848, arriving in Adelaide on April 1st.  Shipping records list Frederick Beseler, shoemaker and Mrs Beseler and 5 children.  The family lived in South Australia for several years before travelling to Victoria.  Frederick was Naturalized in December 1848 - his certificate, obtained from the National Archives, is below.  His son Edward also became Naturalised in 1863.

Shauna tells us that "naturalisation and citizenship records can be found in the various State Archives and after 1901 in the National Archives of Australia and note that some States transferred their early naturalisation records to the Commonwealth while others retained them. So read the fact sheet or brief guides for the State that you are researching to find out where the records are. The information may also vary depending on the time period. For example, naturalisations pre 1860 usually have more information including the ship of arrival which can be very helpful. Post 1900 records are different again."  So if your family came from non-British backgrounds, try searching for naturalisation records for them and see what information they give you. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

52 Weeks of Genealogy - Week 5 - Family Stories

Family stories would have to be one of my favourite topics - I first became interested in family history as a 16 year old and would happily visit older family members to hear their stories, much to their astonishment (You really want to listen to this???).  Of course, the stories I got were not always 100% accurate, but they were fun anyway.  As a teenager I only had one surviving grandparent to ask questions, and I found my mothers side of the family much easier to research to start with as there were actually older people I could talk to.  For my father's side of the family it was harder - both grandparents had died, most of my aunts and uncles were scattered, and my father knew very little - he couldn't even tell me his mother's maiden name ("I don't know, it never came up").  His parents had married in England before coming to Australia, so there were no great-aunts or uncles to talk to either.
My father passed away over a year ago having developed Alzheimers, and as his memory faded I had printed him a folder of old photographs blown up to A4 size.  Many of these photos I had found in an old shoebox at the back of a wardrobe, and had a great time scanning and digitising them - which was very handy as Dad did some 'cleaning up' without my knowledge and I am still discovering what he threw away without my knowledge.  A sure way to get him calm and relaxed was to open the folder and get him talking about a photo - even when he couldn't tell my name any more he could identify every farm hand in an old photograph from the 1950's.  He could tell me the name of the horse he and two siblings drove to school in the early 1930's and the name of the girl he went square dancing with as a teenager - and all these stories have been noted on the back of each photo.
Make sure you take the time to talk to your older generations while you have the chance, as none of us last forever, and don't forget you own stories too - your children or grandchildren may not be interested right now (I actually don't have either of these, but I do have cousins and their children to consider), but you never know who may become interested in the future.

Friday, May 16, 2014

52 Weeks of Genealogy – Week 6 - Land Records

Yes, I'm out of order but now I have caught up with Shauna it is time to go back and cover the first few topics I missed, so having just studied Week 15's certificates I am now back to Week 6 and land records.
The major national and state archives in Australia and New Zealand are:
 My Great Great Grandfather David Mulholland was one of the early settlers around Eurobin, near Bright, and the land records have a lot to tell me about his life in the area.  He came to Australia from Ireland as a young man and worked hard to build a life for himself and his family.  He purchased several parcels of land which were eventually inherited by two of his sons and the land records give me details of the price of the land, the terrain it covered, how it was used and the improvements made over time. 
Land records are a frequently overlooked resource so check to see if they have anything to offer you.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Childrens Homes

A new website has launched this week in the UK called Children’s Homes. It is dedicated to providing historical information on the various institutions that provided homes for children in Britain. This includes orphanages, reformatories, workhouses, poor homes, etc. The website is run by Peter Higginbotham, who also created the website 'The Workhouse'. At the moment, there does not appear to be any actual records uploaded to the website but it does include research suggestions and links which may prove useful to those trying to trace a child.
The site's welcome message states "The Children's Homes website aims to provide information on all of the many and varied institutions that — for whatever reason — became home for thousands of children and young people in Britain. They include a wide variety of establishments ranging from orphanages, homes for those in poverty, and children with special needs, through to reformatories, industrial and approved schools, training ships, and hostels."
The site includes a brief history of children's welfare in the UK, information on the different types of children's homes which existed, the ability to search by institution type or location, and more.

52 Weeks of Genealogy - Week 15 - Civil Registration and Certificates

We are now up to Week 15 of Shauna Hicks's 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records, and I am finally catching up.  Of course, this means I need to go back and fill in the first few topics I missed because I started late! 
Introducing the topic, Shauna tells us that the introduction of civil registration of births, deaths and marriages was a real plus for family history as certificates can give us those vital clues for moving back through the generations. Of course dates when registration was introduced and standard information on certificates varies from country to country but we really cannot confirm our research without these documents.
Birth certificates give us information on the parents and where they were from, marriage certificates also give us information on the parents and death certificates are particularly useful for telling us how long someone was in the colony or state if they an immigrant. 
Unfortunately certificates vary in detail and authority, especially death certificates.  Birth and marriage certificates are usually more reliable as the information they contain was supplied by the people concerned (although if they had something to hide they may have stretched the truth), but who supplied the information you find on a death certificate??  Having recently lost my father, I was the family member who filled in many of the details about his life (I'm fairly certain I got it all correct).  This got me thinking about who may have supplied the information on the older death certificates I have - the only thing you can be certain of is that it was not the person most concerned!  Was the informant their spouse, their sibling, their child?  Or an officiating doctor who had never met the deceased before assisted by nosy Mabel from across the road?  I have a few very disappointing death certificates with little or no information about the person's background, and one I know for certain contains totally incorrect information, which sent me off on quite a wild goose chase.
The cost of certificates can be expensive but digital images are often cheaper so make sure you look at what options are available.  Don't let the cost deter you from a valuable potential source of information.
If you have a brick wall then certificates may be very useful. Try looking at certificates for siblings if you cannot track a direct ancestor.  Find names of children on a death certificate.  Check the witnesses on a marriage certificate as they may be family members - if not parents then aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings.  Check if timelines and places fit with known family movements, see if occupations follow through families and generations. 
Thanks Shauna - this week's topic has sent me back to look at some of my certificates again to see if there is any details I have missed.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

52 Weeks of Genealogy - Week 14 - Cemetery Records

Cemetery records are our topic for Week 14 and Shauna says they have to be one of her favourite genealogical records, and they are ones where I have had some fun researching too. There are two kinds of records to look for – burial records and headstones - don't forget to check for both.
Headstones can give additional information that may not be found elsewhere. Sometimes there might be a year or exact date of birth, or the place where they were born, or there may other family members on the tombstone, nicknames or perhaps even a masonic symbol.
Shauna also reminds us that in our global world we should not dismiss overseas websites "as anyone can contribute to free data sites such as Find A Grave. If you add some of your own family information, you may make contact with someone else researching the same family. Also the major subscription databases also have burial and transcription information. I am sure everyone has their own success stories with burial records and headstone transcriptions but is it time to relook at your research and see what is new?"
I have links to quite a few cemetery sites on my genealogy pages and have also visited the cemeteries where the graves of several relatives are located, and have found some fascinating information on headstones.
Visit Shaun's blog on Cemetery Records to read her full entry on this topic.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

52 Weeks of Genealogy - Week 13 - Personal Names and Surnames

Shauna has chosen Personal Names and Surnames as her topic for Week 13.  Her blog advises us to have a look at the given or personal names in your family tree. Are there any unusual ones or names handed down through the generations? What about unusual surnames? Why not investigate the origins and history of the names and learn more about the times in which they lived?  If you have a really unusual surname then it may be useful to have a look at the Guild of One Name Studies. There are over 2,600 people researching over 8,400 surnames and their variations.
Looking back through my family tree, I quickly notice a number of given names that occur again and again through the generations, and even within one family.  In my Green family a few generations back I have three Isaacs in one generation - the first two died young and the name was reused for the next son each time.  Eventually persistance paid off and the third Isaac Green in that family lived well into his 90's.  His father was named Isaac as well, and the name crops up in several other generations.  In my mother's Pummeroy family William and Alfred are popular, and recur several time across the generations.  This can create an additional challenge in making sure any information I find is linked to the correct person - I have a newspaper article from Trove that mentions William Pummeroy - and I have four of them alive at the time that the article could be referring to!
The Pummeroy surname itself is quite unusual, especially our Australian spelling which occurs nowhere else.  I have spoken to other Pomeroy / Pomroy families that link to ours back in England (there is also a One Name Study group for the Pomeroy name) but our spelling is unique!  So any other Pummeroys out there - please contact me.  My mother's family surnames also includes Beseler - a nice unusual name which comes from Germany - and more common names like Clark and Mulholland.  On my father's side the surnames are more traditional - Green, Argent, Pike and Hart are my great-grandparent's surnames.
Visit Shaun's blog on Personal Names and Surnames to read her full entry on this topic.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Integrated Census Microdata

"The Integrated Census Microdata (I-CeM) project was a three-year programme which has produced a standardised, integrated dataset of most of the censuses of Great Britain for the period 1851 to 1911.
By making available to academic researchers the detailed information about everyone resident in this country collected at each decennial census from 1851 to 1911, the I-CeM project has transformed the research landscape for work in the economic, social, and demographic history of this country during a period of profound change in the wake of the industrial revolution."
This statement comes from the main I-CeM introduction at the University of Essex.   The project allows users to obtain statistical information from the censuses from England and Wales from 1851-1861 and 1881-1911, and Scotland from 1851-1901 (no, I don't know why England and Wales are missing the 1871 census).  The project is outlined at whilst the database itself is accessible at  There is also a detailed user guide is available at
Thanks to Chris Paton for bringing this new database to light on his British Genes blog.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

British Pathe

British Pathe is a collection of news, news film and movies spanning the years from 1896 to 1976,  not only from Britain, but from around the globe. Amongst the 90,000 films that British Pathé have put online (of which 85,000 are newly uploaded) you’ll find coronations, sports activities, fashions of the day, interviews with celebrities, the Royal Family, the Titanic, the destruction of the Hindenburg, British pastimes, gardens, military, parades, travel, culture and 1000s more. Their WW1 Definitive Collection alone contains over 1000 films, which even includes a bunch of films with the Australian and New Zealand military personnel.
Pathé News was founded by Charles Pathe, a producer of newsreels, cinemagazines, and documentaries from 1910 until 1970 in the United Kingdom, as well as being a pioneer of moving pictures in the silent era. The Pathé News archive changed its name a few times over the years, but is now known “British Pathé”.
Viewable on the British  Pathé website you can search by keyword, or you can browse through their categories:
- Entertainment & Humour
- Fashion & Music
- Historical Figures & Celebrities
- Lifestyle & Culture
- Religion & Politics
- Science & Technology
- Sport & Leisure
- Trade & Industry
- Travel & Exploration
- War & Revolution