Sunday, June 18, 2017

Cemetery Day

In a recent post Alona of Lonetester declared June 18th to be Cemetery Day.  As I think this is a great idea (thanks Alona) I decided my goal for the day was to go through some of my records looking for gaps and see if I could track down the graves of some of my ancestors that had eluded me.  Using Billion Graves and Find a Grave as my starting points, and newspapers such as Trove and British Newspaper Archive, amongst others, I spent a lovely couple of hours tracking down graves and finding photos of family headstones.  It was quite surprising how many gaps I had in my tree and how many I was able to fill.
Headstone of my great-grandfather John Clark
So come on board with Cemetery Day and research an ancestor's grave site, visit a cemetery and take some photos, share the photos you have with your family - or start planning for Cemetery Day 2018.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Moving House and finding (more) Treasures

Well, its done.  I have sold the old family home and moved to my new house.  There are boxes everywhere and I feel like it will take me MONTHS to unpack and settle in, but I haved moved house.  Closing the door on the old family home for the last time was quite an emotional experience - I was only 2.5 years old when my family moved in, and after several years away I moved back to care for my parents in their last years, so there are a lot of memories in that house.
I've posted a few times about finding treasures in the cleanout, many hidden amongst piles of rubbish and the final packup was no different.  It was amazing finding things that had fallen behind wardrobes and bookcases years ago or were stashed in the back of a drawer or under a bed and never recovered.  Given that I have been researching the family history since I was 16 years old, and have always been interested in my parents stories of their childhood, how some of these things were never mentioned, much less produced, escapes me.  I think my parents had forgotten about many of these treasures themselves.
A couple of examples.  The first was found in a pile of other papers - many equally fascinating and unseen before by me  - hidden in the linen cupboard behind some old sheets. Apparently my dad did some running while he was a lad at school - this certificate below dates from 1935, and dad would have been 9 years old at the time.
The second was an even more unlikely find.  It was only discovered when the removalists were loading up my furniture to take it to the new house.  This colored print of my father was taken from a photograph from when he enlisted in the Air Force, during World War 2.  It is hand colored on cardboard - and has spent who-knows-how-long lying behind a wardrobe in my parents bedroom.  Neither my sister or I can recall ever seeing it, although we are both familiar with the photo from which it is taken, and how or when it was created I have no idea.
While I am grateful I have these treasures now, I would have loved to have seen them when my parents were alive.  There are so many questions I have - and obviously stories I missed out on.

Monday, April 10, 2017

English Police records added to Ancestry

Was your ancestor a policeman?  Nearly 70,000 Metropolitan Police pension records have been added to Ancestry in a new collection which spans 1852-1932 and features scans of original records held by The National Archives.

Generally the registers will reveal information about the officer's length of service, whether he retired or was discharged, his pension amount and who his next of kin were. Other details may include place of birth, marital status and parents, and from 1923 birth and marriage details of the spouse are also included.

Among the papers are entries for notable detectives, including some of the senior members of the Jack the Ripper investigation unit. Frederick Abberline, chief inspector on the case, resigned in 1892 aged 49 with an annual pension of £206, 13 shillings and four pence.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Australian Copyright Laws Amended

Big news for Australian genealogists came on the 22nd of March 2017 when the Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Bill was introduced to the Australian Parliament.
The Bill ends antiquated provisions in the Australian Copyright Act that provide perpetual copyright for unpublished materials, no matter how old they are. As a result millions of historical manuscripts such as letters and diaries held in our National and State/Territory libraries and archives, and thousands of theses at our universities, will be freed into the public domain on the 1st of January 2019.  This will include all those old letters sent to government departments or shared between family and friends decades ago that have until now been restricted by the old copyright laws.  See the media release from the Australian Libraries Copyright Committee.
With the boom in digitising and making available online so many collections of old documents, these amendments will allow researchers to access a huge amount of material that has been restricted and clear up a lot of the confusion that surrounded the use of unpublished material.
Roll on January 2019!

Friday, March 24, 2017

State Library of New South Wales

The State Library of New South Wales has announced their program of free webinars. Each webinar will focus on the resources of the State archives collection and how to access them.
You can register to attend a webinar live - this will generate an email with a link that you click on at the appointed time to attend the webinar.  If you are unable to attend live, don't worry - the Library will also be recording the webinars so you will be able to view it at a time convenient to you simply by selecting the recorded webinar of your choice.
Currently the library has listed two upcoming webinars :

Using the NSW State Archives website
Date: Wednesday, 29 Mar 2017 10am - 11am
Tracing NSW Convicts
Date: Wednesday, 31 May 2017 10am - 11am

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Trove has a wonderful new addition, with the Commonwealth of Australia Government Gazette from 1901-1957 now available online and fully text searchable.
The Office of Parliamentary Counsel (OPC) has supplied the content and the National Library of Australia has digitised and made these records machine-readable. Users can correct, tag and annotate the contents just as they can with digitised newspaper articles.  It is anticipated that more issues will be added in the future.
The very first issue of the Gazette, published on 1 January 1901, shows the proclamation of the Commonwealth of Australia by Queen Victoria. There were also instructions on a range of protocols, such as directions for appointing the judiciary, what should happen were the Governor-General to become incapacitated, and who would form Her Majesty’s first government.
Each Gazette documents the day-to-day business of governing and administering the Commonwealth. Usually published weekly, they were the principal source of public information on current legislation, and contained notices required by law on decisions made by the various departments and courts.
The subject matter of the Gazette ranges across all kinds of services and authorities, including defence, postal and telegraphic services, taxation and other forms of revenue, immigration, citizenship, trade and foreign affairs, national infrastructure and many others.
Some examples of what you may find in the Gazettes include:
  • notices about people becoming naturalised as citizens
  • results of public service exams
  • details of military service, commissioning, and decorations
  • post office and military tenders
  • despatches from the Secretary of State for the Colonies
  • patent and treasury statements
  • statements of receipt and expenditure for Territories

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New on Ancestry in 2017

Ancestry has been busy adding records to their database, and below are the records already added this year.  Some are completely new datasets, while others have been updated and expanded.  I always enjoy having a look through what has been added, especially when I find new datasets that might contain something relevant to my research.

Surrey, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1912
Surrey, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812
Ireland, City and Regional Directories, 1850-1946
Surrey, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1987
Lithuania, Catholic Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1603-1921 (in Lithuanian)
Eastern Prussian Provinces, Germany [Poland], Selected Civil Vitals, 1874-1945 (in German)
South Africa, Biographical Index, 1825-2005
Claremont, New Hampshire, Vital Records, 1887-1946
New York, Episcopal Diocese of New York Church Records, 1767 - 1970
Magdeburg, Germany, Cemetery Lists, 1849-1874 (in German)
Hamilton County, Indiana, Compiled Records From Hamilton East Public Library, 1891-1962
Tennessee, State Marriages, 1780-2002
Quebec, Canada, Notarial Records, 1626-1935
U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942
Connecticut, Marriage Index, 1959-2012
UK, City and County Directories, 1766 - 1946
Germany, World War I Casualty Lists, 1914-1919 (in German)
Sutton, Surrey, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1915
Germany, Navy Casualty Lists, 1914-1919 (in German)
Sutton, Surrey, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-1985
San Diego, California, Compiled Records From San Diego Genealogical Society, 1913 -1919
American Protective League Correspondence, 1917-1919
Sutton, Surrey, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1940
Sutton, Surrey, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812
DeKalb, Georgia, Compiled Records from DeKalb History Center