Saturday, August 30, 2014

Searching the FreeBMD Marriage Index

Recently in some of the Facebook genealogy groups I've been seeing questions and confusion with the FreeBMD Marriage Index collection on Ancestry. The confusion I see relates to people not knowing that the associated image found on Ancestry is not the actual registration but just a list of all people, the district where the marriage was registered in a quarter and year, along with the volume, and page where the marriage certificate/registration can be found. All that the BMD index tells you is that the person was married (or born or died depending on the index) sometime before the end of the stated quarter of that year.

The FreeBMD Marriage Index collection (much like the birth and death indexes) found on Ancestry can also be found, for free, at

I'm going to walk through both Ancestry's version and the FreeBMD version of the marriage indexes. I will be using George Warrener, my 2nd great-grandfather on my father's side of the family.


On Ancestry, I found him in the index entry for the 1853 Oct-Nov-Dec quarter.

FreeBMD, "England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index: 1837-1915," database, ( : accessed 30 Aug 2014), entry for George Warener, volume 9d, page 634, Dec quarter 1853, Scarborough district; citing the General Register Office's England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes.

There are four names at the bottom of the index search result. So just who are those people? Are they witnesses (like one person thought)? No, they are people married and registered with that same registration year, the quarter, district, volume and page number. Most often you will come across a total of four names but I have seen only three names at times. You might note that two of the names are males and two females. So two couples were registered as being married.

Now let's search for his marriage on FreeBMD ...


FreeBMD search page for George Warrener

Note that I checked the "Phonetic search surname" box. I know that the Warrener name has been spelled many different ways in the records so this takes in account many of those spellings (or misspellings). I rarely select the district but I try to narrow down the county. Usually the county is known or at least guessed at based on findings in census records and birth records of children. Often the marriage will take place in the home parish of the bride or where she was last living with her family. A good map of the time is always useful tool in your research. To select multiple counties or parts of counties (like the various Ridings of Yorkshire) you can select multiple counties by holding down the control key (on Windows systems) when you click on the county names. You can also narrow down the date range based on other events in their lives. But assuming that a person was married before the birth of their first child can be a dangerous assumption to make.

FreeBMD marriage search result for George Warrener
You can see a George Warener married in the quarter ending December 1853. If you click on the page number link, 634, it brings up a similar list to what was found on Ancestry in their search results.

FreeBMD marriage search result for Scarbro, volume 9d, page 634

So, just who married who? There are several ways to find out.
  1. You could look at the decennial census records for the years following. Using details you had hopefully found earlier in your research you may be able to narrow it down. Can you find a George and Ellen Warrener or possibly a George and Mary Warrener in the 1861 census?
  2. Maybe a naming pattern will give a clue. Since this was a direct line of mine, I know that his son's name is George Kaye Warrener. Could he have named his son by including his wife's maiden name? OK, so this is a leading question.
  3. You could look for his baptism record. On the Ancestry search result there is also a link to view the Ecclesiastical Parishes associated with the district. You can click on that link and bring up a list of the parishes.
The only way to be sure that the couple is the right one and to know the actual date of marriage is to find the marriage registration itself. You have a few options to find out the marriage registration details:
 Just don't buy it via a third party site as they will typically add a $5-$20 surcharge.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Citations don't have to be perfect?

I'm going to make a somewhat heretical statement when it comes to genealogy and that is "that citations don't have to be perfect".

Over the past several years there has been a big push to make sure you have citations for everything that you have recorded in your family trees. In my personal opinion (and may others) this is a good thing. When I was first starting out I didn't record where I found various facts or who told me family lore. Not having doing this in the past has bitten me in the derriere more times than I can count and I've had to recreate the path from square one as to how I found out some details in my tree.

Yet some people out there insist that citations must perfectly conform to what Elizabeth Shown Mills has written in "Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace". For many people just starting to delve into their family trees being constantly pounded upon to have "EE approved" citations just puts them off working on their tree.

For many starting off in this hobby they will often make use of Ancestry (and hopefully also MyHeritage, Findmypast, and FamilySearch to name a few other online resource) to start their trees. Possibly they have a program on their computer like Family Tree Maker, Legacy Family Tree, Roots Magic, or Reunion. All of those resources and tools can easily generate the citations needed. Many of the programs mentioned actually make use of Evidence Explained to create the templates to quickly and simply fill in. Are they "perfect" citations? Most often they are not. But are they good enough that if you give a family report with the citations listed to another person to locate the documents can they? You bet!

So, when helping out someone new to the hobby1 of genealogy and family history research gently remind them to record where and when they found the information. But, unless they are going to be writing a book, don't insist on the perfect citation at this time. Let them enjoy the thrill of discovering their past.

For all those having fun doing their family history, please have a citation associated with the facts you record but don't stress out on how it looks. Just make sure there is enough information recorded that you can find the document cited sometime in the future. You will be thankful that you did!

1. A professional genealogist is another case though.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Finding That Lost Family in the Census

One of the challenges we have all faced in researching our family histories is locating those sometimes elusive ancestors in the various census records. It is becomes particularly frustrating when you are positive that you know exactly where they are but they don't show up in any of the searchable indexes. So what do you do? I will be using Ancestry as the online tool for some of the examples but the same approaches work with other sites also. The case study this time was posted on the Ontario Genealogy group on Facebook.

First of all, create a time line out of all the records you have that surround the date of the census. What you are attempting to do is to place the family or person on the ground at a specific time. Use birth, marriage, and death registrations, newspaper articles and city directories (or anything else you have on them). Record the following details if they are on the documents:
  • the specific date of the event from the records you have
  • the exact address if it is given. Of course, sometimes only the city is recorded
  • possible name variations
If you are very fortunate you will have a document or two that records where they were the year of the census and the year or two following. Why a year or two after? Maybe they moved in the year of the census and they might be found in the new location.

So let's look at the family of George Haney that was supposedly living in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada when the 1921 census took place. We know he was born about 1889 in Ontario. It was also known from various documents surrounding the 1 June 1921 date that the 1921 Census of Canada took place that they were living at 24 1/2 Oak Street.

Approach 1: Name searches with wildcards

Make use of the wildcards and filters within Ancestry search feature. In this case, replace the vowels with question marks '?' and put in some other identifiable details such as the date and place of birth and use an exact matching keyword of "Niagara Falls" to restrict it to that area. Why replace the vowels? well a cursive 'o' and 'a' can often look the same to transcribers. The resulting search returned the following:

Search results from Ancestry for H?n?y of Niagara Falls in the 1921 Census of Canada
Ancestry search of the 1921 Census of Canada using wildcards
As you can see, there is a Geo Honey living in the Niagara Falls sub-district, Welland district born about 1890 in Ontario. Looks promising and when you view the image you find that he is living at 24 1/2 Oak Street.

Approach 2: Address search

For some of the census enumeration returns, especially for those of cities, they will record the street address. This is most commonly seen in the United States Federal Census enumerations but in 1921 Canada also recorded that information.

So let us search using an exact match for the street "24 1/2 Oak" (I left off the "Street" or "St" since I don't know how it was recorded in the census) and also restrict the municipality (you can do that for the 1921 census) to an exact match of "Niagara Falls":

Image of Ancestry search results using the street "24 1/2 Oak" and municipality "Niagara Falls"
Ancestry search of the 1921 Census of Canada using Street and Municpality

As you can see there are several "Honey" family members at that address. Again, looking at the image itself and carefully looking at the writing you can see that it appears that the name is transcribed incorrectly.

Approach 3: "Old School" manual browsing

So you still can't them? Time for "old school" research.

1. Try looking up the address on Google Maps (or Bing Maps, your choice). However, you may not find the address since over time street names do get changed or disappear due to developments in the area.

2. Still can't find the address on a current map? Look for older maps or city directories that will hopefully indicate where in the city or town the street was at that time.

3. No old maps or directories handy? Then look for clues in the records you have. In this case it was known that a person in the family went to "Maple Street School". Doing a search for that school reveals that yes it did exist (always nice to have confirmation of that fact) but it is no longer there. However, there is a Maples Street Park and in the park they have this monument to the school:

Picture of Maple Street School memorial in the Maple Street Park, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Maple Street Park, : accessed 21 Aug 2014, "Maple Street Park Memorial"
Now looking at your favourite map of Niagara Falls, Ontario see if you can find Maple Street Park in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

4. Finally we can go browse the 1921 Census of Canada and look through all the images one by one. But don't panic yet as we don't have to look through every single page. We will narrow it down just a little bit further. Unlike the earlier censuses taken in Canada, Library and Archives Canada hasn't made available the list of districts and sub-districts for the 1921 on their web site and neither is it available in the "About 1921 Census of Canada" section on Ancestry. However, because of your extensive knowledge of the area (you did read up about the area first, right?) you know that Niagara Falls is in Welland county at that time so the odds are it is in Welland district in the 1921 census. Of course it doesn't necessarily hold true for all the places. For a large city like Toronto you need to know if the location was in the north, east, south, west or centre part of that city.

Next you have to find the right sub-district. There are 10 sub-districts for Niagara Falls (City). Fortunately each sub-district is described by the streets that comprise their borders. A little more research and it appears that sub-district 31 may be the right location:
Polling Division No. 3 - Being all that part of the City lying between a line running west from River Road, through the centre of Queen Street to Victoria avenue, north through the centre of Victoria avenue to Maple Street, west through Maple Street produced to Stanley avenue and a line running west from River Road through to centre of Morrison Street produced to Stanley avenue
We can now look through the individual pages to find any references to Oak Street to make sure we are in the right sub-district. A mention of Oak Street is found on image page 12 so we just might be in the right place. A little further along on image page 25 (census page 24) there they are once again:
Image of the 1921 Census of Canada, Ontario, Welland District (138), Niagara Falls City (31), p 24
1921 Census of Canada, Ontario, Welland (138), Niagara Falls City (31), p 24; RG 31; digital images,, ( : accessed 21 Aug 2014)

But what if you still can't find them.
  • Could they have been visiting friends that day? 
  • Maybe, and it does happen, the pages have been lost or misfiled. 
  • Possibly they just moved away for a few months and are living somewhere else and then came back ... after the census of course! 
  • The family was in transit and were just missed by the enumerator
  • Could the enumerator have accidentally forgotten to go down that street?

[Oh, if anyone does come across an Alexander McKinlay (born 1889 in Scotland) with wife Isabella (AKA Bella, born 1886 in Scotland) and son Samuel (born 1915 in Ontario) that should be living in the town of Peterborough (or surrounding townships ... Peterborough was a smaller place then), Ontario drop me a note. I've used all these techniques and have even gone through all the images for that area and still no luck in finding him or the family.]

Monday, August 18, 2014

To Hire or Not To Hire, That is the Question

A comment was made in one of the Facebook genealogy groups where the following comment was made:
"...please don't waste money on hired researchers - you'll get a much better service from the helpers on here, most of whom are better experienced and qualified than those who charge for their services"
Being both a genealogy researcher available for hire and also a client1 I have a problem with that comment.

As someone that has paid a researcher to do work for me, there is nothing like having the knowledge of a local expert to find those records you just wouldn't even have a clue about. Many records and resources have never been digitized or catalogued and unless you live in the area that the family you are tracing also resided then you won't know about that little known book in the local archive that has the answers.

Yes, there are bad researchers that just feed back to you what you've already found2. However, there are also those great researchers that start with what you have told them and find those hidden gems that solve that intractable problem you have posed.

As for getting "much better service" that I personally believe is false. Many of the great paid researchers are busy with contracts and they don't have time to answer questions on Facebook, that is assuming they are on Facebook at all. Certainly places like Facebook and other online forums can help but you are depending on the good nature of people to help and also on serendipity in order to get a timely answer. Is the right person in that group and did they even see your question?

When do I think is the right time to hire a researcher? Since a genealogy researcher isn't an inexpensive proposition these are the questions I feel you need to ask yourself first:
  1. Have you exhausted what you can find going through your personal records, interviewing living relatives (if you are lucky to still have them), and looking through free sites like or even at a library and using their access to Ancestry or other paid sites?
  2. Have you sat down with a friend and talked through the problem. Often we are so close to the problem that it is a "can't see the forest due to the trees" issue3. Sometimes our own prejudices and assumptions can cloud the issue too.
  3. Can you summarize the problem in a sentence or two? Sometimes there appears to be so many problems that you don't know where to even start. Being able to clearly and coherently express what you want a hired genealogist to work on is critical to getting your money's worth.
  4. Are you so frustrated with not finding the answers that you hate sitting down to what was once a fun hobby? If so, a contracted researcher can take the specific burden off your shoulders and possibly provide a fresh set of eyes, knowledge, and perspective for that specific question. Doing your family tree should be a fun, enjoyable, and sometimes challenging hobby. Not something to dread.

With apologizes to Shakespeare, "To hire or not to hire, that is the question." And I feel the answer, like many things in life is "it depends."

What are your thoughts on this matter? Have you hired someone to help you with your research? Were you happy with the results? Did you personally feel it was worth the money?

1. I feel like I'm in a bad Hair Club for Men ad.
2. Yes, I have had that experience myself.
3. This happened to a friend in a conference research room and once it was talked through the answer was almost self-evident.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

1871 Census of Canada and the Other Schedules

The 1871 Census of Canada is an unusual census in that when it was first photographed onto microfilm only Schedule 1, Nominal return of the living, was saved. However, in 1975 the census enumeration papers were re-microfilmed and all the schedules were photographed to microfilm. This means that, where possible, the following schedules or documents are available for many areas of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec:
  • Schedule 1, Nominal return of the living
  • Schedule 2, Nominal return of the deaths
  • Schedule 3, Return of public institutions, real and personal estate
  • Schedule 4, Return of cultivated land and products
  • Schedule 5, Livestock, animal products, home-made fabrics and furs
  • Schedule 6, Return of industrial establishments
  • Schedule 7, Return of products of the forest
  • Schedule 8, Return of shipping and fisheries
  • Schedule 9, Return of mineral products

Out of all the schedules most people are only familiar with the Nominal return of the living since it has the list of the people with their names, gender, age, place of birth, religion, origin1, occupation, married or single, instruction (going to school, unable to read or write if over 20 year of age), and infirmities. Additionally there may be mentions to see another schedule. Fortunately schedule 1 has be indexed for searching by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is available on various sites including Ancestry, FamilySearch, and Library and Archives Canada.

Sometimes you will even come across Schedule 2, Nominal return of the deaths, when you are doing your search on Ancestry. This is invaluable since this schedule gives a list of those that have died in the past year. Very useful if you can't find a church, civil or newspaper record of a death.

But what about those other schedules? As part of the microform digitization project several years ago by Library and Archives Canada those microfilms have been digitized and placed online in the Archived Microform Digitization section of the LAC under Census of Canada, 1871. The trick to finding what is where on these digitized microfilms is to click on the Help in the upper right of the screen2.

This will bring up the archived help page for the 1871 census of Canada. If you go to the List of Content of Microfilms section of that document you will come across an Excel spreadsheet finding aid. As long as you know the district, sub-district and division you will be able to figure out the microfilm you need to consult and also what schedule may be missing.

So let's look at a real life example and look at Charlott Fowler in the 1871 census3. As you see here, she has a remark stating to look at schedule 3, page 14.

1871 Census of Canada, Schedule 1, Ontario, East Middlesex (9), London (C-2), p 46

Looking up district 9, sub-district C I find it here in the finding aid spreadsheet.

Most of the microfilms are missing schedule 9 but other schedules may also not have survived the years.

Now we can go to the digitized microfilm. In this case we are interested in locating schedule 3, Return of public institutions, real and personal estate, page 14 for Ontario, Middlesex East (9), London (C), division 2. So we know we need to look on microfilm C-9905. In looking at the microfilm listing, only Middlesex East (9), London (C) is on that roll so it is a little bit easier.

I do my usual thing of clicking on the "View PDF" link at the top so the pages don't scroll too much off my screen (I have my Firefox browser setup so I can view PDFs within the page). Make sure you look at the top of the digitized page to find the schedule number and also at the very bottom where it says the district, sub-district and division in order to help locate the area you are looking for. After looking for just a few minutes4 I find the image of exact page I'm looking for on image page 147.

1871 Census of Canada, Schedule 3, Ontario, East Middlesex (9), London (C-2), p. 14

In the schedules 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9 the names aren't listed but instead the page number and line number referring back to schedule 1 is used as the key. Of course, the schedule you are looking at may take you to another one like it does here on line 17 where it says look at schedule 7, page 13. Do I hear a scream yet?

So let's look for page 13 of schedule 7, Return of Products of the Forest. After a few more pages of skipping forward, it can be found on image page 175 on the second sheet on the image.

1871 Census of Canada, Schedule 7, Ontario, East Middlesex (9), London (C-2), p. 13

After all that what do we find? That Charlott Fowler "gets wood for ___ling" (I can't quite decipher the writing).

  1. Although that really needs to be taken with a big grain of salt at times.
  2. I know, actually looking at a help page to find out how to use the resource? Heresy!
  3. Not a relation of mine, just an example from a posting within the Ontario Genealogy group on Facebook
  4. Some good guessing as to what page it might be on and a lot of luck got me to the page in just moments!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Upper Canada Land Petitions at LAC

One of the challenges faced by new users of the Library and Archives Canada web site is that the site is a mishmash of indexes, indexed images and digitized microfilms. Even worse, some of the collections are in the "Archived" list that may be buried on the site under the ARCHIVED - Microform Digitization page. This can quickly frustrate even the most experienced genealogy researcher the first time (or second time) they attempt to find documents on the site.

A case in point is the Land Petitions of Upper Canada, 1763-1865 collection. Here they have a searchable database that let's you search by the given names, surnames, and also by place. You can even use the '*' character to search with a wild card. For example, when looking for a land petition for Robert Wilkerson in Niagara results in nothing being found. However, he went by the name of Wilkinson. So instead of searching on all the various possible combinations of a name you can use the first several letters followed by the asterisk. So in this case I would search for Robert Wilk* to see what comes up. I might even narrow the focus and put in Niagara as the place. But most of the time I leave the place field empty unless I'm positive I know exactly where it was and what it was called at the time.

I'm going to use the Jacob Ball as my example for the next queries.This is what is returned from the LAC database query:

Surname Given Name(s) Place Year Volume Bundle Petition Page(s) Reference Microfilm
BALL Jacob Jr. Newark 1795 27 B 1 27 RG 1 L3 C-1619
BALL Jacob Lincoln 1794 27 B 1 65 RG 1 L3 C-1619
BALL Jacob Sr. Newark 1795 27 B 1 81 RG 1 L3 C-1619
BALL Jacob Newark 1795 27 B 1 82 RG 1 L3 C-1619
BALL Jacob Jr. Thorold 1795 27 B 1 85 RG 1 L3 C-1619
BALL Jacob Sr. Newark 1795 27 B 1 96 RG 1 L3 C-1619
BALL Jacob Newark 1797 28 B 2 156 RG 1 L3 C-1619
BALL Jacob & family Newark 1797 29 B 3 9 RG 1 L3 C-1619
BALL Jacob Nassau 1791 29 B 3 43 RG 1 L3 C-1619
BALL Jacob Nassau 1791 29 B 3 60 RG 1 L3 C-1619
BALL Jacob Nassau 1791 29 B 3 61 RG 1 L3 C-1619
BALL Jacob sr. Newark 1797 29 B 3 77 RG 1 L3 C-1619
BALL Jacob Sr. Newark 1800 32 B 5 104 RG 1 L3 C-1621
BALL Jacob Sr. Niagara 1805 34 B 7 45 RG 1 L3 C-1621
BALL Jacob J. Thorold 1810 36 B 9 86 RG 1 L3 C-1622

As you can see there are several Jacob Balls listed. I already know that Jacob Ball the Elder has a son (the Jr.) so that isn't a surprise. Also the time frame is the late 1700s and early 1800s. I've already discovered that Jacob Ball the Elder (AKA Jacob Ball, Sr.) is an United Empire Loyalist.

Not that there are several places listed: Newark, Lincoln, Nassau, and Niagara. If you didn't know the area you might assume these places are all different locations. This is where knowing the region where your ancestors settled is vital. Have a map handy and even Wikipedia can be a useful tools for figuring out where and when a place is.

Looking at the 1791 petitions the place is Nassau. We aren't talking about the Bahamas here but Nassau District, Province of Quebec. This was even before Upper Canada came into being. In the early days of Upper Canada (remember this is way before Ontario existed), from 1792 until 1797, Newark was the capital of Upper Canada. In 1798 Newark was renamed as Niagara (much later on it became Niagara-on-the-Lake). Lincoln is the county in that same region. Thorold is a township in Lincoln County. So all of these places were in the same geographic region.

Next, make a note of the Volume number, Bundle, Petition and Reference. Also note the microfilm. We are going to need that information in order to actually find and see the documents. For this example, I'm interested in Jacob Balls 1791 Nassau petition found on volume 29, bundle B 3, petition 43 referencing RG 1 L3 on microfilm C-1619.

Of course it would be so much easier if LAC had linked to the Upper Canada Land Petitions (1763-1865) (Archived) microform collection from the information page of the database search but they didn't do it. Instead you need to know that the digitized microfilm is actually available online at the link above. I will admit that they do mention it on the Land Records starting page. When you go to that archived page you will be presented with a list of microfilm numbers. Look through the various pages until you come to microfilm C-1619 (it is on the first page). Click on that link to bring up the start of the digitized microfilm.

Depending on how your web browser is set up you just might want to click on the "PDF" button so that each page almost fits on the screen. In my case, the JPG format is just a little too big and it continues off the side of my screen. I do switch back to JPG to save the image so I can manipulate it later if I want.

Go forward a couple of pages until the microfilm pages are on the screen. Now look at the bottom of the digitized microfilm page. It will tell you the bundle (B 1) the RG number (RG 1 L 3) and the volume (27). Since I'm looking for volume 29 I probably have a number of pages to go. I usually jump ahead by 100 or 200 pages until I either overshoot the volume I want or I actually get to the right volume. In this case, I ended up on page 1000 before I was in volume 29. Even better, I'm in bundle B 3. If you look at the top of each page you will see numbers written there. On image page 1000 it is written 50c. So I'm probably looking at the 3rd page of petition 50. I'm going to move backwards maybe 10 or 20 pages at a time until I get really close to petition 43. I quickly find that it starts on image page 975. There may be several pages so make sure you save them all to your computer so you can take the time to read and transcribe the documents.

It isn't that hard to find these Land Petition documents but, as with all genealogy research, you have to know where to look and that is often the biggest challenge of them all!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

My Top 10 Other Genealogy Web Sites for 2014

I covered my personal top favourite 100% free or Canadian owned genealogy research related web site at My Top 10 Canadian Genealogy Web Sites for 2014 but there are other sites I also use on an almost daily basis when doing research. Since I deal in researching not only ancestors in Canada but also in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and the United States of America I have many sites I consult. Some are free while others need a subscription or are pay as you go.

Be warned that this is just a very, very small selection of sites I use but they are my initial "go to" places I probably couldn't live without. Often I will start with them and then move on to the more obscure or specialized web sites to find additional details. Once again, I'm certain I've omitted your favourite site that you can't live without so tell me about it in the comments.

In no particular order here are my other top 10 research sites not mentioned in My Top 10 Canadian Genealogy Web Sites for 2014 list:

Ancestry ($$$), whether it is .com, .ca,,, etc, is my go to place due to the number of indexed records that they have available and the coverage of the areas I research. I have their world subscription and it is worth every nickel (pennies aren't made in Canada anymore). However, the one complaint I have is that their transcriptions can sometimes be just a little wacky.
  • Since I do a lot of Ontario research, the Ontario, Canada Vital Records: Births, Marriages and Deaths collection is of key importance. It covers Ontario births between 1869-1913, marriages 1801-1298 (a little spotty before 1869), and deaths 1869-1938 along with deaths overseas between 1939-1947.
  • The 1921 census of Canada is also hosted on and is supposed to be freely available to Canadians residing in Canada.
  • For tracking those elusive US relatives the U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 is very useful for those times between the various census enumerations. is free and is the next place I visit when doing my research. Not all of the collections are indexed but that is just fine with me. Going through the images page by page is just a digital way of scrolling through a microfilm. Even then, most of those collections have some sort of finding aid to speed up the process. If I can't find the record or index on Ancestry I'm fairly certain I will find it here. Some of my personal favourites are:

If you are doing any researching of ancestors in Scotland then ($$$) is a must use site. It makes use of a pay as you go model where to see the results of a search you typically need to pay 1 credit and to see a record it costs 5 credits. An overview of the charges can be found here. Only here will you see the images from births, marriages, deaths, and censuses along with valuation rolls and other documents. Yes you can fly to Scotland to do the research (I highly recommend it and if you are thinking of going then talk to Christine Woodcock of Genealogy Tours of Scotland) but for the price of the airfare and hotel you can get a whole lot of records downloaded to your computer.

Findmypast ($$$) (, ie, or is another site I find very useful especially for my English ancestors. But it also includes quite a number of newspaper collections that help fill in the gaps in their lives. You can either purchase a subscription or pay as you go to access images of the records. For my research I purchased the world subscription and it has been invaluable.

For finding my Australian cousins the Trove newspaper collection is the site I couldn't live without. Here you may find immigration lists, birth, marriage, and death announcements in newspapers. Even better, the site is free and you can easily make corrections to the OCR transcriptions of the articles to make them easier to find for the next researcher (always nice to give back a little).

Where would we be without Find A Grave to help us locate and then see the markers of where our relatives, distant or not, were supposedly buried? Remember that just because someone is supposedly buried in one place that they didn't die in another. As always, what is written on grave markers need to be taken with a grain of salt (or is that chunk of marble?) when it comes to their accuracy. But they do offer a starting point as to the time frame for when our ancestors were living

Speaking of death ... one of my first stops when trying to locate a death record in the United States is the Online Searchable Death Indexes & Record site. Here you will find links to sites hosting indexes, records and/or obituaries in the United States of America.

Often I will come across a book mentioned as a source in an online family tree. Since I prefer seeing the source myself and if the book is out of copyright I head on over to the Internet Archive to see if it has been digitized and placed in their collection. But I also use the Internet Archive to check out websites that may have disappeared from the Internet. Their Wayback Machine is a great tool to see those lost web sites or pages.

The National Archives ($$$ or free) located at Kew is yet another go to place when I'm doing any UK research. Many times I will come across a reference to a WO, ADM, FO, HO or AO record in an index. Since you really need to see the source record and not just rely on the index for details this means I need to search The National Archives site. Some of the collections have been digitized and placed on line there or through one of their partners. Other times you will need to pay for the digitization and have them send you the documents in question. It is still cheaper than flying over there, staying for a day, and then flying back!

Where would we be without the FreeBMD site holding transcriptions of the civil registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales? Yes, Ancestry and Findmypast both have copies of these civil registration indexes but when I can't find the entries on those sites I immediately head over to FreeBMD.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

World Wars Commemoration in Ottawa - Aug 4, 2014

From the Veterans Affairs Canada web site concerning World Wars Commemorations:

"August 4, 2014 marks the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the First World War and the start of Canada's First and Second World Wars Commemoration period."

On Monday, August 4th, 2014 join myself and many other fine folks from Ottawa and the surrounding area at Canada's National War Memorial from 11 am until 11:45 as we commemorate the start of the Great War of 1914-1918 (AKA "The War to End All Wars") when Great Britain declared war on Germany  (and thus also brought Canada into this war) and also the 75th anniversary of the start of the Second World War (September 10th, 1939 when the Parliament of Canada declared war on Germany).

This being the Civic Holiday in Ontario, there is practically no reason for those able-bodied souls in Ottawa (and not at the cottage) not be there to remember all those that served, that were affected, or were unwilling participants in these two world wars.

Type: Commemorative Ceremony
Date: August 4, 2014
Time: 11:00 - 11:45
Details: 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the First World War and the start of Canada's First and Second World Wars Commemoration period. The event serves to launch the National Sentry Program, complete with a General Salute and a Fly Past. Dominion Carillonneur will perform a musical interlude and Interpretation staff dressed in authentic World War uniform will be on-site. Please plan to arrive at the National War Memorial by 10:40.
Location: National War Memorial
Address: National War Memorial
City: Ottawa, Ontario

Private Samuel McKinlay, Regimental Number 7675, died 22 Apr 1915 (photograph taken 6 Nov 2008 by Ken McKinlay)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Summer Days and Backups


Just a friendly reminder that even during these relaxing summer months it is still important to make backups of your valuable genealogical (and other) information that you have saved to your computer.

There are various ways to make those backups and I've written about them before in a 4 part series:

Backups - Part I (An Overview)
Backups - Part II (Local backups)
Backups - Part III (Cloud Storage)
Backups - Part IV (Wrap up)