Friday, 31 December 2010

Archive CD Books / Eneclann sale

Archive CD Books / Eneclann ( is currently holding a winter sale:

Didn't get exactly what you wanted for Christmas?

Never mind - with 50% off most Archive CD books Britain and Ireland titles during our Winter Sale, you're bound to find something that's perfect for you!

Don't miss out though - the sale runs from 26th December 2010 to 9th January 2011. Browse the Archive CD Books Britain and Ireland shop now.

Happy New Year!

The Archive CD Books Britain and Ireland team

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Guild of One Name Studies freephone number

Abridged version of a press release from the Guild of One Name Studies (

Guild of One-Name Studies – freephone numbers

The Guild of One-Name Studies can now be contacted via it freephone/toll-free numbers in the UK, North America and Australia

The Guild is thought to be unique among genealogical organisations in providing a UK telephone helpdesk to which calls can be made completely free of charge from all UK landlines. Available for seven days a week, 365 days a year, it provides a much-appreciated service for the use of both the general public and members of the Guild. Launched in early 2005, the helpdesk Freephone number 0800 011 2182 has now become familiar to most of our members, appearing on the front page of the Guild’s website and in all of its publicity material. Earlier this year, the toll-free number 1 800 647 4100 was launched to provide both the public and Guild members throughout North America, with direct access to the Guild helpdesk and is proving to be equally successful.

North- American number is currently being answered in America during the day (US time zones) and in the UK at other times. The Guild have now introduced a free phone number in Australia - 1800 305 184 which is being answered in Australia during the day (Australia time zones) and in the UK at other times.

The Guild of One-Name Studies consider that its helpdesk has an extremely rosy future and will provide an easy opportunity for members of the public in the UK, North American and Australia to call the Guild to find out:

• more about undertaking a One-Name Study
• the benefits of joining the Guild of One-Name Studies, and
• the assistance members of the Guild can provide to anyone researching their family history on any of the 7,800 plus names currently being researched

Roy Rayment, Guild’s Front Office Manager, said today

“The extension of the Guild’s freephone/toll-free numbers to both North America and Australia should enable anyone to contact the Guild to make enquiries about the Guild, on undertaking a One-Name Study or on contacting our members regarding a surname being researched.”

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Monday, 27 December 2010

Medieval Scottish database launches

A new database has been launched entitled The Paradox of Medieval Scotland. Bit of a silly title, but it has evidence of some Scots alive between 1093-1286 as drawn from some 6000 charters of the time. For most people it will not be of much use, as most people in Scotland will be lucky to get back to the 17th or 18th centuries with their research - nevertheless it is a resource which may help the lucky few. From the site, located at, a brief explanation of itself:

The period between 1093 and 1286 laid the foundations for modern Scotland. At its start, the king of Scots ruled no more than a small east coast realm between Lothian and Moray. At its end, his authority extended over the whole area of modern Scotland apart from the Northern Isles. During the same period, Scotland's society and culture was transformed by the king implanting a new nobility of Anglo-Norman origin and establishing English influenced structures of law and government. Rees Davies observed of Scotland that 'paradoxically, the most extensively English-settled and Anglicised part of the British Isles was the country which retained its political independence' (The First English Empire, 170). The paradox could go deeper. Is it a coincidence that it was only in the thirteenth century, when Anglicisation became dominant in the lowlands, that the kingdom of the Scots ceased to be regarded by its inhabitants as a realm of many regions and began to be thought of as a single country and people? In one sense the kingdom was becoming more self-consciously Scottish; and yet its history in this period is typically seen in terms of native distinctiveness being eroded by the influx of English immigration, social institutions and culture. But, should this be seen primarily in British terms? How does this transformation relate to wider patterns of social and cultural homogenisation that have been identified in this period, embracing French-speaking elites, Flemish as well as English traders, and the religious life and institutions of Latin Christendom?

This project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and combining the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and King's College London, has investigated how a recognisably modern Scottish identity was formed during the period 1093-1286. Drawing on over 6000 contemporary charters, it constructed a unique data-base which will provide biographical information about all known people in Scotland between 1093 and 1286. This data-base is freely available to all.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Scottish Post Office Directories on NLS website

The National Library of Scotland has a new dedicated Post Office Directories page on its website at There are 287 directories currently available from 1774-1911, about a third of those digitised for the Internet Archive project, with the rest soon to follow. At the moment they can be browsed or downloaded in PDF format only - a new search facility will follow later in 2011, with each name indexed by the first three letters on each page (i.e. PAT for PATON, PATERSON etc).

Also from the National Library:

There will be a Discovering Family History Workshop on January 10th at 2.00pm, at George IV Bridge, Edinburgh.For more see

There will also be a Building the Bell Rock Lighthouse Treasures Display from January 12th - February 28th 2011 at George IV Bridge, Edinburgh. See

Finally, 18,000 Scottish maps from the library's online collection have also now been made available at the ScotlandsPlaces website at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Friday, 24 December 2010

Nollaig Chridheil - Merry Christmas!

It's been a fairly rough week here in Largs for the last week or so, following the arrival of aggressive Black Death at my house (i.e. the flu!), with myself and both my boys fairly wiped out for a few days. My wife Claire, as usual, is immune to all known forms of bacteriological warfare, and does make a mean Lemsip, so it's not all been bad! :)

Merry Christmas to new friends and old - and see you on the other side!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Glasgow Roll of Honour A-D online

The Scottish Military Research Group has made available online the first part of its Glasgow Roll of Honour, covering surnames beginning A-D, with some 4500 names in total. When complete the whole roll will contain some 18,500 names. Much of the work was compiled by the group's Kevin O'Neill, who sadly passed away in November, and to whom the project is now dedicated.

David McNay has more on the announcement on his blog at, whilst the roll itself is acessible at

(With thanks to David)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Ancestry: Help and Advice Centre

The UK branch of Ancestry has launched a new Help and Advice Centre at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Improved broadband for Shetland

From the ISP Review website:

The European Union (EU) has officially granted state aid clearance to the Shetland Islands Council (SIC) for homes and businesses on the islands to benefit from a new fibre optic broadband cable link with mainland Scotland (UK).

The Shetland Fibre Optic Network (SFON) project will, in total, cost roughly £1.1 million to complete but could significantly improve broadband ISP connections for island residents. Until now only the Faroe Islands have been able to benefit from the original 2007 laid cable after BT refused to extend it.

According to the Shetland Times, a fibre optic cable running between Lerwick and Hoswick is now expected to be completed before summer 2011; work to hook up the other towns will commence later in the year. It was revealed in September 2010 (here) that £367,500 of the total was to come from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Hopefully that's good news for Scotland's Nordic genies...!

(With thanks to Tweet2Scotland on Twitter)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

ScotlandsPeople Centre gift vouchers

The ScotlandsPeople Centre ( offers gift vouchers for sale at £10 each for a full day's search pass, with no expiry date by which they must be used. From April 1st the admission price to the centre will rise to £15.

I've just been on the phone to the centre to book a seat for some research. Curious to know whether the purchase of a voucher at £10 would be valid for admission after April 1st, when it should be £15, I asked the question, and the person on the phone offered to call me back with a definitive answer. He duly did so a few minutes later - and it appears that, as things stand at the moment, a voucher purchased at £10 is in fact valid for a full day's research after April 1st, and not just £10 off the admission price.

If you are planning on lots of visits in the next few months, the vouchers may well be a useful way to try to save money on admission costs - though it is entirely possible that the situation will be changed in due course, so ask before you buy!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

ScotlandsPeople Centre and NAS Christmas closures

The ScotlandsPeople Centre ( will be closed on the following days over the holiday period:

Monday 27th December
Tuesday 28th December
Monday 3rd January
Tuesday 4th January

For the National Archives of Scotland (, General Register House's search rooms will close on Friday 24 December 2010 at 15.00 and re-open again at 09.00 Wednesday 29th December 2010. They will then close at 15.00 on Friday 31 December 2010 and re-open at 09.00 on 5 January 2011. West Register House will close on Friday 24 December 2010 at 15.00 and will not re-open again until 09.00 on 5 January 2011.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Christmas in Ruhleben

My latest blog post at Walking in Eternity concerns Christmas cards sent by British civilian prisoners of war interned at Ruhleben camp in Germany during the First World War. To view the post visit

Other recent posts include:

How are you? and the joys of Gaelic

The Missionary Rescue Mission

An 1839 Shipwreck

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Start Your Family Tree Week

From FindmyPast:

Start Your Family Tree Week runs from 26 December 2010 until 1 January 2011

The 26th December 2010 will see the launch of the UK's first ever family history awareness campaign, Start Your Family Tree Week, at a time when family is at the forefront of the nation's minds. Taking part in Start Your Family Tree Week are,,, Eneclann, the Society of Genealogists, My History, BBC Who Do You Think You Are Magazine, Your Family Tree and Family Tree magazine and the week is supported by the Federation of Family History Societies and the UK's digital champion Martha Lane Fox.

Although the popularity of family history has grown dramatically in the UK over the past decade, with 42% of the population now saying they have started researching their ancestors, one in three people say they would like to start delving into their family's past but have no idea where to begin*. Start Your Family Tree Week has been launched to encourage people to discover more about their ancestors in a fun and exciting way. The week, which will run until the 1st January 2011, will show people how to take their first steps in family history research with free guides and charts to download, competitions, special offers on participating websites and daily family history activities for all the family.

Further details on Start Your Family Tree Week can be found at:

Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at, said: "Start Your Family Tree Week will help people make the most of Christmas family gatherings to pass on their family memories across the generations, and to share in brand new discoveries by using online family history resources.
The internet has made it so much easier to trace your family tree and learn about your family's own unique story, full of colourful, real-life characters from the past. Every family has its intrigues, well-kept secrets and heart-warming tales, and I believe we could soon see family history becoming the traditional Christmas pastime for all the family."

Rhoda Breakell, head of Genes Reunited, comments: "Grannies sinking sherries, dads taking an afternoon nap and siblings squabbling is a typical Christmas Day for most, but it makes you wonder whether your family has always been like that. With this year's yuletide festivities just around the corner it's a great time for you to think about your family's roots. Start Your Family Tree Week is an ideal time to start exploring your family history, whether it's tracing great-grandparents' names, searching military records or even discovering that you have a famous sportsperson in your gene pool, the resources and offers available from 26th December will make it an easy and fun journey."

Martha Lane Fox, UK Digital Champion comments: "I think's'Go ON: Start Your Family Tree Week' is a great idea. Whilst the internet
has become a gateway to the future for many it is also an amazingly powerful tool for uncovering the past and reconnecting people in ways that were once unimaginable. Christmas is the perfect time for families to explore their history and encourage older relatives to go online for the first time - I hope that this initiative is a great success and urge everyone to get involved."

Else Churchill, Genealogist at The Society of Genealogists added: "The Society of Genealogists has been helping people discover their roots for 100 years. Hence we are delighted to support Start Your Family History Week and introduce as many as we can to the fascinations of genealogy."

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Monday, 20 December 2010

Society of Genealogists closures over Christmas

The London based Society of Genealogists (, which hosts a great many Scottish resources, will be closed from 4pm Thursday 23rd December 2010 to 10am 29th December 2010, and again from 4pm Thursday 30 December 2010 to 10am Tuesday 11 January 2011.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Scotland's first female herald appointed

Congratulations to Elizabeth Roads on being appointed Scotland's first ever female herald, having worked at the Court of the Lord Lyon since 1975. Elizabeth very kindly proof read the chapter on heraldry in my book Researching Scottish Family History earlier this year, and kept me straight on a few points!

There's more on her appointment at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Irvine ancient capital of Scotland?

It's silly season with the historians again. Apparently Irvine may have been the ancient capital of Scotland, because it sounds a bit like Evonium, cited by Boece in the 15th century - or something like that.

For more on the nonsense, see

My son will be delighted though, as he was born there - my liege!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

More on GROS and NAS merger

From the National Archives of Scotland:

John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth announced last week that the National Archives of Scotland (NAS) and the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) will merge. This follows an options appraisal by officials of the two organisations and Registers of Scotland, which looked at different combinations of amalgamation between the three.

The NAS-GROS merger builds on existing close working relationships between the two bodies, particularly the service for family history under the highly successful ScotlandsPeople brand. This grew from the idea that the public understood little and cared less about organisational differences; what they wanted was access to information through one portal. Merger will allow further integration and improvement of public services. Combining resources will create a stronger organisation with wide skills in acquiring, processing and making available records and information. NAS will benefit from access to GROS expertise in geographic exploitation of data, GROS will benefit from NAS expertise in long term preservation of both digital and paper records. There will also be further sharing of central services, building on the existing close working that already covers accommodation services, training and development, records conservation, records management and library services.

The existing record keeping functions of NAS and the registration and statistical functions of GROS will continue. Staff of both bodies are part of the Scottish Government main bargaining unit and there will be no change to their terms and conditions as a result of the merger.

No date has been set for completing the merger, but work is already underway to share finance services, and detailed work in other areas will begin shortly.

NAS and GROS have also agreed with Registers of Scotland to develop a programme of joint working which is likely to include greater data sharing and co-operation in long term digital preservation.

George MacKenzie
Keeper of the Records
National Archives of Scotland

Duncan Macniven
Registrar General
General Register Office for Scotland

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Friday, 17 December 2010

Scottish landscape then and now

The BBC has a news page showing a series of images depicting Scottish landscape changes over many years. Visit and use the slider to flit between the pairs of images for then and now.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Am Baile website development to be frozen

Once again the economic downturn has claimed another Scottish genealogical victim, this time in the form of a freeze on the development of the Am Baile website ( from April 2011.

Am Baile is truly one of Scotland's genealogical gems, a key resource for those with Highland ancestry, not least of which for the newspaper indexes on the site. This is a real, crying shame.

Government funding is being cut left, right and centre. At least they haven't proposed a cull of the population yet, but at the rate at which things are going, anything seems possible!

The report announcing the decision to cut Am Baile funding is on p.13 at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Up for a Scots/Irish genealogy cruise around New Zealand?!

Australian gene genie Unlock the Past has announced a provisional confirmed programme of genealogical events for next year, but wants you help to firm up some further suggestions. Amongst those ideas still to be confirmed is a 14 day Scots/Irish themed cruise around New Zealand in November, which yours truly has agreed to participate at for the Scottish side of things, if it goes ahead. Two Irish experts have also agreed to participate, but I won't name them until Unlock the Past does - suffice to say for now that they will not disappoint!

Further suggestions up for grabs include further expos in Northern Queensland, Geelong, Western Australia and Mid Northern New South Wales, as well as a writing local and family history seminar in Adelaide.

To help shape the programme, and to register potential interest, please visit

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Cregagh Library hours for Christmas

From PRONI in Belfast:

The Cregagh self service facility will be closing early at 5pm on Thursday 23 December 2010. There will be no late opening for that evening.

Opening Times over the Christmas Period will be as follows

Friday 24 December 2010 - Closed
Monday 27 December 2010 - Closed
Tuesday 28 December - Closed
Wednesday 29 December - Open
Thursday 30 December - Open
Friday 31 December - Open
Monday 3 January 2011 - Closed

Cregagh will be open for normal service from Tuesday 4 January onwards.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

WW1 German war experience testimonies to go online

Crikey, news from Europe...! An exciting new development concerning the First World War and Oxford University's Great War Archive, now being rolled out as an idea in Germany:

The Hague 16.12.10

1914-18 archive alliance signed

The German National Library, Oxford University and Europeana have signed an agreement to digitise family papers and memorabilia from the First World War to create an online archive about the people involved in the conflict.

Oxford University began the initiative when it asked people across Britain to bring family letters, photographs and keepsakes from the War to be digitised. The success of the idea – which became the Great War Archive – has encouraged Europeana, Europe’s digital archive, library and museum, to bring the German National Library into an alliance with Oxford University to roll out the scheme in Germany. The collaboration will bring German soldiers’ stories online alongside their British counterparts in a 1914-18 archive.

There will be a series of roadshows in libraries around Germany that will invite people to bring documents and artefacts from family members involved in the First World War to be digitised by mobile scanning units, and to tell the stories that go with them. There will also be a website allowing people to submit material online if they are unable to attend the local events. Everything submitted will also be available through Europeana, where it will add a new perspective to collections of First World War material from institutions across Europe.

Dr Elisabeth Niggemann, the German National Librarian, said, “We are proud to be part of this alliance. These artefacts and their stories have survived and we must record them while they are still part of family memory. Little of this material will ever have been on public display, or been made available to historians. What the 1914-18 War demonstrates, especially at the personal level, is the futility of war, and the pity of it for the men and their families.”

Stuart Lee, an Oxford University academic and Director of the Great War Archive said, “Working together with the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek and their partners in Germany to extend this initiative will give it new resonance. The Centenary in 2014 of the first year of the war will prompt many people to discover more about it and find out about family members involved. The 1914-18 archive will bring them close to those who witnessed it at first hand, showing the souvenirs that they kept throughout their lives and telling the stories that they handed down the generations.”

“One such story that was submitted to the Great War Archive during the British project exemplifies what we want to do. It concerns RAF man Bernard Darley who was commended for putting out a fierce fire in a workshop containing petrol tanks. At his side throughout was a German prisoner of war, Otto Arndt. The two became friends and Otto made a matchbox from a shell-casing as a memento which he inscribed and presented to his friend. This story shows the human side of the war – in this case an unlikely friendship between normal people caught up in a war not of their making.”

Jill Cousins, Executive Director of Europeana, says that the organisation is well placed to bring together such partnerships: “Europeana acts as the facilitator in an extensive cross-European network of libraries, museums and archives. We aim to create partnerships with organisations from other theatres of the First World War, such as Belgium, France and the Eastern Front, so their stories can be included.”

“The 1914-18 online archive will reflect the reality of the lives of the soldiery on different sides of the conflict. As a people’s history it will offer a vivid testimony that school students will find compelling, and we are keen to work with educational organisations to create teaching resources. We are also planning exhibitions and information services that provide a pan-European focus on activities around the 1914-18 centenary.”

(With thanks to Europeana)

COMMENT: I think this is a simply brilliant development. About 14 years ago I had the task as a young BBC researcher to sit in the Imperial War Museum in London and to listen to recordings of many of those who fought in the First World War for a possible programme development. I always remember the most powerful testimony being that of a former German soldier telling the interviewer how he desperately wished the war would end in 1918, as he and his family were starving and desperate. There are two sides to every conflict, and it will be great to hear that of the other side in such detail.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Northern Irish GRO certs to go up

Here's a family history friendly message for those like me with Northern Irish ancestry. For a long time already the highest charging GRO office in the United Kingdom, the office in Belfast is increasing the cost of a cert to £14 from £12 from January 1st. God forbid there should be any sort of harmony across the UK with the service...

I'm sorry the government thinks the good folk of Ulster are made of money. It's not as if the province is sharing a land border with Europe's fastest sinking economy and in serious risk of economic contagion or anything!

The press release is at

(With thanks to Peter Calver's Lost Cousins newsletter)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Gairm index now on Am Baile

An index for the Gaelic quarterly magazine Gairm has been added to the Am Baile website (, with issues from 1952-2002. The site now has the following indexes online:

• The Inverness Journal (1807 - 1849)
• The Inverness Advertiser (1849 - 1885)
• Scottish Highlander (1885 - 1898)
• Inverness Courier (1879, 1898 - 1901, 1920-1939)
• John O'Groat Journal (1836 - 1887)
• Gairm (1952 - 2002)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Kim Cattrall for round two of WDYTYA

Having previously appeared in the UK version of Who Do You Think You Are?, actress Kim Cattrall has now been signed up as one of the celebrities to take part in the next American version of the series. I think someone has got the geen genie bug here...! In the UK version Cattrall discovered that her grandfather was a bigamist. Hopefully in the US version we won't end up with a five minute end sequence of Cattrall shouting out "I'm an American!" (with apologies to Sarah JP!) - I'm guessing the audience will get that already!

Other 'slebs' lined up include Vanessa Williams, Steve Buscemi, Rosie O'Donnell and Ashley Judd. For more see

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

FamilySearch website regenerates

The new incarnation of the Mormons' FamilySearch website, for several months available in a beta version, has now been migrated to the previous version's address at It's not quite the end of its predecessor, which will continue to be made available at for a while longer - but we're now very nearly at the end of an auld song.

Family Search has issued a press release to announce the arrival of the new site:

Big Changes at

Updated Site Now Available; More Improvements to Come

SALT LAKE CITY–FamilySearch announced several changes today for its family history website, Online patrons will find millions of new records and images, over 40,000 helpful articles, over 100 interactive courses of instruction, and a dynamic forum to ask personal genealogy questions. The changes have been in testing for some time. FamilySearch will continue to implement the new website in phases to ensure all critical elements are functioning as desired. Once complete, the website will be promoted more broadly.

The new site offers the following free benefits to FamilySearch patrons:

• Millions more scanned, historical documents and indexes that are published more frequently.
• An improved search experience that looks through more content and gives more accurate results. • A thriving online genealogical community where patrons can give and receive help.
• One user name and password for all FamilySearch products and services.
• Responsive, reliable, and scalable hardware and software that will allow the site to grow and improve.

FamilySearch has published a helpful document called “Adjusting to the New Version of” and a video tutorial that summarizes the changes to the new site. These new guides can be found under the “Changes at” link.

The prior version of the site will still be available through the transition period.

(With thanks to Paul Nauta at FamilySearch)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Carnoustie roll of honour

An exhibtion is currently underway at Carnoustie Library to commemorate the 142 people from the town who lost their lives in the First World War, including two Victoria Cross recipients. Maureen Fleming of the library has compiled a new roll of honour for those who fell.

David McNay has the full story at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Coming soon: Family & Local History Handbook 13

The next edition of the popular Family and Local History Handbook, volume 13, will be made available at the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show at London's Olympia from February 25th-27th. Produced by Robert Blatchford Publishing Limited (, the book is both a yellow pages type guide for details of all archives, family history societies and more that you may ever require for your research, as well as a superb volume packed with articles on all aspects of British and Irish family history - you might even find one or two in there from yours truly!

I'll be having the great pleasure to help both Bob and Liz Blatchford on their stall again at the event for the three days - if you're a regular blog reader please do pop over and say hi if you're going!

In the meantime, you can still purchase the previous editions of the book from - Volumes 11 and 12 are still in print, whilst Volumes 1-10 are reproduced in PDF format on a CD.

Happy reading!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Monday, 13 December 2010

Family Tree top 40 blogs 2011

Thanks to the US based Family Tree Magazine for including the Scottish GENES blog in the top 40 blogs 2011 shortlist, and congratulations to all fellow nominees!

To view all those listed, and to vote for all your favourite blogs, visit and - the results will be announced in July 2011, and voting closes on 20th December.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Friday, 10 December 2010

Genes Reunited 1911 census pricing

From from Genes Reunited ( on its 1911 census release for England and Wales:

Credits can be purchased at the following prices: £5.00 for 50 credits (credits will last for 30 days) or £17.95 for 200 credits (credits will last for 90 days)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Restricted access to NAS maps

Just picked up on the following from the National Archives of Scotland (

Access to plans reference RHP1-5999, 17800-18771, 18790-19999, 20001-75000, 80000-89195, 89365-95510, 97819-97828, 98401, 98405-98466, 140073-142427 & IRS101-133 will be closed for a period of four months from Monday 22 November 2010 to allow for plans’ storage to be upgraded. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, but hope that you will understand that we are committed to maintaining preservation standards for our national collection.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Canadian archive to expand digital access

Library and Archives Canada ( has announced that it is to significantly expand its digital collections access by 2017, in time for the country's 150th anniverary of Confederation. Within a year it will double the amount of digitised material it makes available, provide the option to purchase digital images from its collections and significantly expand what it makes available through

For more, visit the Anglo-Celtic Connections blog at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Genes Reunited uploads 1911 census images

Genes Reunited ( has joined the latest frenzy over the 1911 census, following Ancestry's release of census summary books - GR has released original household images to go with the transcriptions already made available.

(With thanks to Spinsky)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Ancestry launches 1911 census summary books

Ancestry ( has uploaded the 1911 census summary books for England, Wales, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. These are NOT the full census returns, however - they are coming very soon - but one of the additional pages following the household schedules, which lists the heads of household only, and information about the properties enumerated. Useful information in its own right, though sadly not as useful as the Irish 1911 census equivalent which lists landlords' names also, and which can tell you if your ancestor actually owned the property he occupied etc.

Whilst the books are online, the descriptor for each collection on the respective search screens seems to be providing information for the actual forthcoming household schedules, and not the enumerators' returns. I've had a quick play, and searched for my great great uncle James Paton in Croydon - he is in fact listed as "Mr Paton", and the search only worked when I put in the surname and input Croydon into the "Registration District" field - not the "Lived In" box.

An interesting addition, and good quality images from what I have seen - but not a patch on the original schedules which will be of much more use when uploaded in the next few months.

Click on View All New Records on the home page to access the respective search screens.

UPDATE: Audrey Collins from the National Archives at Kew has added an informative background piece on the story behind the creation of these returns at her The Family Recorder blog at

FURTHER UPDATE: From Ancestry "The complete set of 1911 Census record images will launch online at in early 2011, followed by the indexes, which will be made available in sections throughout the remainder of 2011." A new 1911 site page is available at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Addressing History video lectures now online

Videos from the Addressing History project's lanch day in Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago are now online at

I attended the day's events and my summary of the proceedings is at Of particular interest to most genealogists will be the lecture by Ines Mayfarth on the NLS Post Office Directories digitisation and indexing project for the Internet Archive, and Nicola Osborne's and Stuart MacDonald's presentation on Addressing History itself, but there are also useful presentations on the NLS georeferncing project and the Tobar an Duachais/Kist o' Riches audio digitisation project.

(With thanks to Nicola Osborne)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

FamilySearch and GoONS to work together

The latest newsletter from the Guild of One Name Studies ( has announced major new working relationship with the Utah based FamilySearch team:

New Guild links with

Since the Marketing Strategy meeting in March, the Guild has been liaising with Familysearch to build up more links with their organisation. Those of you who are regular users of Familysearch will have seen the new site and 2010 Conference attendees will remember that we were informed that the site would be completely re-launched ‘in due course’ with all the data on one site, as well as the IGI (with members submitted data separately). Familysearch are keen for their work to benefit the worldwide family history community as much as possible and, to this end, we have set up a link with them. Anyone who searches their website for a surname registered with the Guild will be presented with a link to the Guild website and your contact details! There will be an opt-out facility if you do not wish your details to be made available in this way. The link is due to ‘go live’ in February – look out for more details in January JOONS and hopefully many more contacts as a result!

Familysearch are also in the process of converting all their genealogical and historical records from around the world into digital images which are stored in their online system. They plan to give everyone free access to these indexes through their website. Our volunteers coordinator, Glenys Marriott has agreed to coordinate an indexing project on behalf of the Guild. This project will be a closed project in which we can select the records we want to transcribe, at a county and record level (e.g. Yorkshire marriages post-1837, not in the IGI). These records will be completed solely by the Guild volunteers and we will then receive a copy of the images and index for our archives.

The Guild has alos announced a new course in partnership with Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd (, to follow up its successful introductory course on one name studies:

Pharos One-Name Study courses

There are two Pharos courses being run next year. They are:

Introduction to One-Name Studies

This was the first course to be offered and was first run in 2009. It is a five-week course, covering the history of one-name studies, reasons why genealogists should have a one-name study, how to check on the suitability of your surname, the history and distribution of surnames, the practical aspects of running a one-name study, and the collection and analysis of data from core records needed for a one-name study. This introductory course has proved very popular. The next five week course starts on the 20th January 2011 - see the Pharos website for the next offering of the course.

Advanced One-Name Studies

Students who complete the Introduction course, or who already have a registered name with the Guild of One-Name Studies and a large amount of surname data, can also take advantage of the latest course Advanced One-Name Studies. This intensive course looks at studies in the light of analysis and synthesis of findings with an optional assessed element. The course runs for six weeks starting on the 23rd May 2011.

I know for a fact that the one name courses are very quickly booked out, being so popular, so if interested, I humbly suggest you get in like Flynn!

Further news from the Guild, including details of its 2011 conference (April 15th-17th, warrington), can be accessed on its latest newsletter at

(With thanks to Debbie Kennett)

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Robert Burns Birthplace Museum

The official opening press release:

National Trust for Scotland unveils its new £21m Robert Burns Birthplace Museum

The National Trust for Scotland has opened the doors to its £21m Robert Burns Birthplace Museum (RBBM) – the first major museum to open in Scotland in three years and the bench mark against which all future Trust properties will be set.

The highly anticipated opening is the culmination of years of planning and includes a 500m2 exhibition space which has four distinct areas - ‘Identity’, ‘Inspiration’, ‘Fame’ and ‘Creative Works’ - addressing every aspect of Burns’ life through an innovative and thought-provoking interpretation.

Highlights from a collection of over 5,000 historical artifacts, original manuscripts and pieces of memorabilia are presented in a fresh and novel way while engaging interactive multimedia features and newly commissioned works from leading Scottish artists including Kenny Hunter, Timorous Beasties and Sue Blackwell, which are interspersed throughout the site, will engage visitors of all ages.

Kate Mavor, chief executive of the National Trust for Scotland, said: “We are extremely proud of what we have achieved with the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum – it is a world class visitor destination that will draw Burns enthusiasts from around the globe and it has set the standard for Trust properties for the future. We are looking forward to welcoming our first visitors and hope that they will take away an enriched learning of Burns and his work.”

The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum replaces what was formerly known as the Burns National Heritage Park to bring together all of the Alloway sites with a connection to Burns including the new 1,600m2 museum, the Burns Monument, Alloway Auld Kirk, Burns Cottage, an education pavilion and Auld Brig O’Doon. A new footbridge will also be created to link key sites to the new museum to make accessibility as easy as possible for visitors.

Nat Edwards, director of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, said: “This has been a real labour of love for all involved and we’re absolutely delighted to open the doors to the new museum today. Our aim is to provide a modern and relevant interpretation of Burns that will intrigue visitors of all ages, whether they are lifelong Burns enthusiasts or completely new to his work.

“Here you will not just be able to read the manuscript of Tam o’ Shanter, you can see the fireplace round which Burns first heard the stories that he turned into that poem, and you can look out the window and see that landscape, places like the Kirk Alloway and Brig O'Doon where the poem takes place. It gives you every facet of the man and his work.”

The museum, which is the largest, most ambitious project the National Trust for Scotland has ever undertaken, is generously supported by the Scottish Government, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Enterprise and South Ayrshire Council in addition to thousands of donors who have generously contributed to the creation of a lasting, and fitting legacy for the bard.

Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “This is truly a day to celebrate Scotland’s cultural history. We can now offer the world a captivating insight into the life and works of one of our national heroes through a state-of-the-art museum which we can all be proud of.

“The words and works of Burns touched, and continue to touch, ordinary lives with their humanity. They have now been given a home which keeps them safe while bringing them to life for generations to come. The Heritage Lottery Fund congratulates the National Trust for Scotland in making this happen.”

From the initial planning stages of the RBBM, the Trust was keen to ensure the Scots language would feature predominantly throughout the museum; aiming to position it as the leading museum destination for those looking to learn about the ‘mither tongue’. From Scots words engraved on the wall of the museum exterior to the descriptions of artefacts which are given in Scots in the exhibition – RBBM is the first museum to feature the language in this way.

Hundreds of contractors have been involved in the museum’s build including lead designers Events Communication and builders Border Construction. From an architectural perspective, Arnaud Schwartz’s, of Simpson and Brown’s, main aim with the modern design of the new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum was to create an ecologically responsible and sustainable building that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability to adapt to fit the needs of future generations and the museum. As such the museum has a unique sedum roof that naturally insulates the building while heating and cooling is provided by 12 earth energy ground-source heat pumps.

Upon entering the exhibition area, visitors see a timeline of important dates in Burns’ life and events taking place in Scotland that would have affected his work; but that’s where the traditional museum experience ends.

A theatrically lit corridor serves as the entrance to the main exhibition area and sets the scene as voices of gossips talking about Burns quietly echo through the hall while words such as ‘exciseman’, ‘lover’, ‘poet’, ‘ploughman’, ‘icon’ inscribed on the floor open visitor’s minds to the idea of Burns as a man through the different stages of his life.

London based company Spiral Productions has created 17 interactive features for the new museum and has worked closely with interpretation manager Mary Stones to create unique interactive elements that complement the artifacts on show and encourage visitors to actively participate in learning about Burns.

Celebrities including Bill Paterson, Brian Cox and Eddi Reader have lent their support to the museum by recording vocals for audio visual interpretations of ‘To a Mouse’, Red, Red Rose’ and ‘Tam o’ Shanter’ which are accompanied by stunning imagery to ignite imaginations and bring the pieces to life.

Upon entering the main exhibition space, visitors go through the Identity section which will present Burns’ family and relationships and how these had an influence on his life and works. The section is split to focus on Burns as a brother, a friend, a lover, a husband and a father with relevant artifacts featured in each display including a fragment of his wife, Jean Armour’s wedding dress, Highland Mary’s bible and a letter to his brother William.

Burns’ influences are then explored in the ‘Inspiration’ section which is segmented into five key areas – ‘nature’, ‘books and music’, ‘politics’, ‘love’ and ‘belief’. One of the highlights in this section is a tongue-in-cheek interactive news programme called ‘The Burning Issues’ presented by anchorman ‘Jeremy Waxman’ which looks at topical issues of Burns’ time. Visitors will later move onto explore Burns the songwriter with a jukebox that categorises his songs into modern day genres such as ‘floorfillers’, ‘tearjerkers and ‘power ballads’ which aims to show that Burns was as much an accomplished songwriter as he was a poet.

This area also features an Auld Lang Syne interactive element which allows visitors to listen to different versions of the iconic song which have been recorded by Burns enthusiasts from around the world and uploaded to a special RBBM Facebook page before the museum opened. Visitors can then go home and upload their own renditions which will be considered for inclusion on the jukebox. It’s these modern touches that make the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum unlike anything that has ever been done before and present Burns’ work and significance in a way that will appeal to visitors of all ages and from all walks of life.

Burns’ status as a global icon is explored in the ‘Fame’ section which looks at the ‘cult of Burns’ and how the fascination with Burns grew after he died. This area includes an interactive Burns Supper which encourages museum visitors to engage with each other as they learn about the way in which the bard’s birthday is celebrated around the world each January 25.

Finally, in the ‘Creative’ section, Burns’ works are enclosed in listening pods where visitors can listen to his poems while many original manuscripts, including Scots Wha Hae and Auld Lang Syne will be on display for visual purposes.

Part of the museum space will play host to a series of temporary interpretations with the inaugural exhibition being a major new showcase by Scottish artist Peter Howson. The exhibition, ‘Howson Burns: Revealed’, features 15 new portraits of Robert Burns which are on display and available to purchase from December 2010 – June 2011. The exhibition includes 12 pastel paintings and 3 new oil paintings of the bard which are guaranteed to spark the interest of fans of Burns and Howson alike.

(With thanks to the NTS)

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New Bletchley Park web page from BBC

The BBC has created a new site dedicated to the World War 2 code-breaking statioon at Bletchley Park, which can be found at

Recently on Twitter, myself and a group of other genealogists were having a conversation about Bletchley Park and were all a bit stunned to discover that each and every one of us had a relative who worked there, in my case my grandfather's cousin Catherine Paton. It made me wonder if the 1939 National Register wasn't in fact an enlistment roll for the centre, and that the whole nation wasn't employed there! :)

In June, Bletchley Park Museum announced it was digitising its entire archive over the next three years to place online, although some resources are already available on its website. To catch up on the story visit

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Tuesday, 7 December 2010


From the Royal Commision on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (

Explore Scotland this Christmas

As a special offer to RCAHMS newsletter subscribers, our two new publications Above Scotland - Cities and Victorian Scotland are available at special discount prices, including free postage and packaging.

In Above Scotland - Cities the fascinating stories of the nation's dominant urban landscapes are told through 90 years of stunning aerial imagery. To order for £19.99 (RRP £25.00) with free UK P&P call BookSource on 0845 370 0067 and quote CITIES.

In Victorian Scotland the pioneering work of the nation's first ever photographers mixes with rare and never-before-seen imagery from private family albums in a compelling account of the generation that changed the world. To order for £23.99 (RRP £30.00) with free UK P&P quote VICTORIAN.

We are also offering a further discount if you order both books together. For a special price of £39.99 (RRP £55.00) you can buy both books with free UK P&P by quoting EXPLORE.

Fantastic Savings on RCAHMS Images

From December, if you order an existing digital image from RCAHMS you will receive your second image half price.

Select from 150,000 stunning, high quality digital images from Scotland’s architectural, industrial, archaeological and maritime heritage over the last 100 years. Click on the image of your choice and select Order Image. Your first selection costs £10 plus VAT and each subsequent image is only £5 plus VAT.

Are You a Fan of RCAHMS?

You can now follow RCAHMS on Facebook and Twitter.

Fans and followers can keep up to date with all RCAHMS news and events, and benefit from a growing selection of interactive content.

Updates of projects, exhibitions, publications and websites are posted regularly and are easy to share with colleagues, friends and family.

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Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Monday, 6 December 2010

Scottish directories project developments

Two developments concerning the Scottish Post Office Directories (aka PODs) digitisation project for the Internet Archive by the National Library of Scotland. The first is that a summary of the recent talk by Ines Mayfarth of the NLS, responsible for the project, is now online at the Addressing History blog, along with other talks given on that day. See Ines gives details of how the project has been co-ordinated, and also news of a forthcoming website from the NLS which will fully index the 750 directories involved from 1783-1911, which should be out by the middle of next year.

Also concerning the Internet Archive hosted images, Michael Tobias has slightly beaten the NLS to it, by creating a free to access index for the Glasgow directories from 1783-1911 at Michael is keen for feedback, and has stressed that he may be moving the project to a different web address in due course. His contact details are on the site.

(With thanks to Addressing History and Michael Tobias)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

More on FindmyPast's new English marriage database

FindmyPast ( has been clearly having some fun with its new MarriageMatch database - here's its latest press release:


o 95 million fully searchable wedding records from 1837 – 2005

o Eileen Dover, Holly Oakes and Mary Christmas all found in the records

o The real Romeo and Juliet married in 1971

Have you ever met a Mary Christmas, Moana Lott or Anita Bath? Many may see these names as amusing but some women who have met the man of their dreams have taken their partner’s name, becoming the Butt of many jokes., a leading UK family history website, has launched an easier way to search the marriages of English and Welsh ancestors online. Over 95 million wedding records from 1837 to 2005 have been made fully searchable making it easier to find the exact record you’re looking for.

It’s all in a name

The new fully searchable records have thrown up some interesting finds, proving that when taking a partner ‘for better or worse’; an embarrassing married name doesn’t put everyone off…

A selection of the married names found:

Holly Oakes
Eileen Dover
Hazel Nut
Queenie King
Mona Lott
Jean Pool
Joy Rider
Lily Pond
Anita Bath
Candy Barr
Kerry Oakey has introduced the revolutionary MarriageMatchTM, meaning the end of mystery marriages and endless searching of the records. It will find all the possible matches within the records even if only one name is known. Alternatively, if the first or last name of the spouse is known you get an even more accurate list of possible spouse matches.

Keeping up with the Mary Christmases

It seems that a large number of Marys have continued the Christmas theme with their name and married someone with the festive surname, Christmas. There are over 50 Mary Christmases in the records and the earliest recorded Mary Christmas married in 1837 losing the maiden name of Cannon in Alton, Hampshire.

Where for art thou… has discovered a pair of real star-crossed lovers in the marriage records as, in 1971, a ‘Romeo’ married a ‘Juliet’ in Lambeth, London. The family history website has also found the marriage records of Oscar Fingal Wilde to Constance Lloyd in Kensington, London in 1884, Jude Law to Sadie Frost in Westminster, London in 1997 and Kate Winslet to Jim Threapleton, in Reading, Berkshire in 1998.

With this record I thee wed. has discovered that the most popular county to be wed in is Lancashire, with 11.66 million records listed between 1837 and 2005, closely followed by London with 11.62 million.

The five most popular towns to be married in were:

Registration District
Number of records

Birmingham, Warwickshire

Manchester, Lancashire

Sheffield, Yorkshire

Leeds, Yorkshire

Bristol, Somerset

Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at, said, “As the first company to publish birth, marriage and death records online, has always been committed to making family history research more accessible. This brand new way of searching the marriage records is a major breakthrough in family history enabling people to find their ancestors’ marriages more quickly and easily than ever before by using our revolutionary new tool MarriageMatchTM. Thanks to initiatives like this, family history is more popular than ever and we hope that we can help even more people to start uncovering their family’s past.”

The sophisticated new search facility will match up your ancestors' records, providing you in many cases with one definite marriage match, or a list of up to four most likely possible matches, saving you time and money.

The launch of these records is part of a year long project that will see digitise over a quarter of a billion records. The reindexed birth records were launched in July 2010 and the death records will follow early in 2011.

The records is the only place you can search the 1837-2005 marriage records all in one place. The online family history website has reimaged and transcribed the full collection, allowing researchers to search directly for their ancestors, making it much quicker and easier than before to find one person. was the first company in the world to put the complete Birth, Marriage and Death indexes (BMDs) for England and Wales online on 1 April 2003. Previously these were only available offline on microfiche or in registry books, at a selected number of locations. This landmark achievement was recognised in 2007, when won the Queen’s Award for Innovation.

Mary Christmas! (ahem!).

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Google launches new ebook store

Google, the new worldwide religion replacing God...

Sorry, Google, the internet giant, has today launched its long awaited eBook store at, through which it will be possible to purchase copies of books and to source many millions of others for free. Books can be read on many different platforms, including Amazon's Kindle, Google's Android and others utilising Adobe's ebook platform. On a quick search of Scotland all sorts of free material emerged, such as "Documents and records illustrating the history of Scotland, and the transactions between the crowns of Scotland and England, preserved in the treasury of Her Majesty's Exchequer", "Memoirs of the Church of Scotland" and many other fascinaing texts. A little light bedtime reading!

For more on the story visit and

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
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Sunday, 5 December 2010

Save Every Step

A new timeline site called Save Every Step at is proving to be a lot of fun! I am currently writing a full review of the site for a forthcoming magazine column, but in essence it allows you to create an interactive 'lifeline' which can be used as both a daily diary or to upload historic events.

It's a Yorkshire based initiative from Helen Spencer, who I had the pleasure of speaking to yesterday, which has a lot of potential and many forthcoming developments promised for the next year. Big thumbs up from this end, why not sign up and have a play - it won't cost you a penny! :)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)