New FreeCen Website

Did you know that  FreeCEN gives free access to census records for England, Scotland & Wales?

FreeCEN offers a free-to-search online database of the 19th century UK censuses. Transcribed entirely by volunteers, they have more than 32 million individuals available on their website that anyone can search without having to create an account. The new FreeCEN2 website launched on Monday 31st July 2017 with all of the records that the current website holds, but with a fresh new look and feel in-line with Free UK Genealogy and FreeREG.

Their new website will offer more features for researchers, and make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for. FreeCEN2 also brings with it a host of improvements for existing and future volunteers, such as a members sign-in area and brand new messaging system.

FreeCEN, FreeREG and FreeBMD are projects by Free UK Genealogy, a registered charity that promotes free access to historical records. FreeREG underwent this process in 2015, and FreeBMD is due to begin its renewal later this year.

For more information on the updated information on FreeCEN, please click here.


Best Newspaper Sites for Genealogy

There are literally hundreds of newspapers sites that could be useful for your genealogy research. Many of them would gladly have you as a paid subscriber. But how do you know which one is worth spending your money on?

No newspaper website has all of the newspapers. There is some overlap between the sites, but their coverage does vary.  The best newspaper site for your genealogy is the one that has the newspapers that you need.

Before subscribing to any of the paid newspaper sites, be sure to check out the Ancestor Hunter website.  As of August, 2017 there are links to approximately 25,000 free newspaper sites, including the US Canada and other countries.   It is definitely well worth checking out!

Good luck with your research.


Understanding DNA Tests

Have you gotten the bug yet and taken a DNA test?   Once you receive the results, are you totally confused?   There is definitely a huge learning curve, as you have probably found out.

Genetic genealogy or DNA testing can tell you, at its most basic level:

  • If you and another person are related /descended from the same individual
  • If you and someone else with the same surname are related
  • If your genealogical research is on the right track
  • What area of the world your paternal and maternal lines come from, as well as giving you an idea of your ethnic origins

It is very important to remember that most of the value of genetic genealogy (DNA testing for family history research purposes) is in the comparison and matching of your DNA results to others. Just because we have DNA testing does not mean we can throw exacting traditional research techniques out the window!  Think of it as a marriage between two methods of finding and providing our family history – traditional genealogy research and DNA testing.

A brief but comprehensive explanation of the types of DNA tests and what you can find is available in a document provided by Mary Katherine Kozy and is well worth taking the time to read.

There are several sites that do DNA testing, including Family Tree DNA, 23&Me and AncestryDNA.   You may choose to test with one or all of the companies and each one is completely reliable.   Comparing the tests can be a new problem, though.   One comparison site is Gedmatch.

If you are new to using GedMatch or want a brief overview of how it works, you may want to read a previous blog post on “Ten Tips for Making the Most of Gedmatch”.

Once you have uploaded your DNA results to GedMatch, the test results are not always a 100% match.   The Legal Genealogist explains why this happens.

Uploading your tree to GedMatch is explained by The Young & Savvy Genealogists on their blog page.

Did you know that many cousins don’t share enough measurable DNA to get caught in DNA application filters? By using the GEDCOM search at GedMatch you can find people who have your relatives in their family tree even if you only share small amounts of DNA,  The blog post How to find DNA cousins on Gedmatch with a Gedcom search provides information on how to conduct a search.

Good luck with finding more family research information using DNA results!

Librarians On Loan

When you just can’t find what you’re searching for on the Internet, remember that real-world libraries may well hold the information you can’t locate in cyberspace. If you believe a distant library might have the answer you’re looking for, consider using “Ask a Librarian,” a service offered by most libraries and archives in the U.S. and Canada. The libraries encourage you to submit short, specific questions via e-mail or an online form provided for this purpose. You can also call them, but genealogical inquiries are often best submitted in writing. Library and Archives Canada at even has a special “Genealogy Inquiry Form.”

Appropriate requests would include lookups, such as obituaries that may have appeared in a local paper within a narrow date range. Librarians may be willing to make photocopies of brief local publications or several pages of a document or an article in their holdings. In such cases, you’ll need to pay for the copies and postage. Otherwise, the service is usually free, but a small donation is always appreciated.

Source:  Sue Lisk, Your Genealogy Today and Internet Genealogy author

Family Search to Stop Distributing Microfilms

FamilySearch issued a news release on June 25th that was a good news-bad news story. The news was not unexpected, it was only a matter of time.  The end of microfilm has been predicted for years. Microfilm and microfiche has become harder and harder to purchase. Most of the manufacturers have stopped producing microfilm and microfiche so the companies and non-profits that release information on film have been forced to abandon the media.

The bad news is FamilySearch will discontinue its microfilm distribution services September 1, 2017.  The last day to order microfilm will be on August 31. The change is the result of significant progress made in FamilySearch’s microfilm digitization efforts and the obsolescence of microfilm technology.

  • Online access to digital images of records allows FamilySearch to reach many more people, faster and more efficiently.
  • FamilySearch is a global leader in historic records preservation and access, with billions of the world’s genealogical records in its collections.
  • Over 1.5 million microfilms (ca. 1.5 billion images) have been digitized by FamilySearch, including the most requested collections based on microfilm loan records worldwide.
  • The remaining microfilms should be digitized by the end of 2020, and all new records from its ongoing global efforts are already using digital camera equipment.
  • Family history centers will continue to provide access to relevant technology, premium subscription services, and digital records, including restricted content not available at home.

The good news is FamilySearch plans to digitize all of its microfilms by the end of 2020. But that requires patience, and genealogists are not the most patient.

To date, more than 1.5 million microfilms have been digitized by FamilySearch. The remaining microfilms should be digitized by the end of 2020, and all new records from its ongoing global efforts are already using digital camera equipment.

Family history centres will continue to provide access to relevant technology, premium subscription services, and digital records, including restricted content not available at home.

According to FamilySearch’s news release: “When approved by priesthood leaders, centers may continue to maintain microfilm collections already on loan from FamilySearch after microfilm ordering ends. Centers have the option to return microfilm that is available online or otherwise not needed. As more images are published online, centers may reevaluate whether to retain microfilm holdings.”


17 Best Free Online Scottish Resources

In the latest issue of the Who Do You Think You Are newsletter, Ayrshire-based genealogist Chris Paton takes a look at seventeen free resources to help you unlock your Caledonian family connections.

For more information and to view the list of these free resources, please click here.

Canadian RCMP Obituary Index

When researching your ancestors, you may find ancestors who were part of the Northwest Mounted Police, some of the provincial police forces or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. has a collection of Royal Canadian Mounted Police obituary card index and Notices you may want to search for clues to your ancestor’s working history with the RCMP.  It is an invaluable resource, providing invaluable information.

These records include Royal Canadian Mounted Police death records found in Royal Canadian Mounted Police publications, including an index to some of the obituaries from 1867 to 2007.

This collection is a memorial to those Royal Canadian Mounted Police who died while in service. Secondly, it is a collection of publications sent to living officers to inform them of the deaths of fellow officers. The index was created by a retired officer, Norman G. Wilson, who wished to make the obituaries more accessible to family members and researchers.

Please note that these publications and the accompanying index only include the records of those officers whose deaths were reported to the publications.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police force we know today was born out of a need for a national police force to implement the law in Canada’s newly acquired western territories.  In May 1873, the Parliament of Canada established a central police force, and sent 150 recruits west to Manitoba. The new police force gradually acquired the name “North-West Mounted Police” (NWMP).

In July 1874, the Mounted Police, now numbering 275 members, marched west, headed for southern Alberta, where American whisky traders were operating among the Aboriginal people.

The officers established a permanent post at Fort Macleod, Alberta, where approximately half of the Force was posted. The remaining members were either sent to Fort Edmonton or to Fort Pelly, Saskatchewan, which had been designated as headquarters.

The following summer, the Mounted Police established Fort Calgary, on the Bow River in Alberta, and Fort Walsh, in Saskatchewan’s Cypress Hills.

By 1885, the Force had grown to 1,000 men, but in 1896 its future was threatened by the newly elected Prime Minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who wanted to reduce and eventually disband the NWMP. However, support for the Force in the West prevailed, and it gained new prominence policing the Klondike Gold Rush.

In 1904, King Edward VII conferred the title of “Royal” upon the North-West Mounted Police.

From 1905 to 1916, the Force entered into contracts to police the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. These contracts ended due to the provinces’ desire to create their own police forces.

In 1919, Parliament voted to merge the Force with the Dominion Police, a federal police force with jurisdiction in eastern Canada. When the legislation took effect on February 1, 1920, the Force’s name became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and headquarters was moved to Ottawa from Regina.

The RCMP returned to provincial policing with a new contract with Saskatchewan in 1928.

From 1932 to 1938, the RCMP took over provincial policing in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, nearly doubling in size to 2,350 members.

The years following World War II saw a continued expansion of the RCMP’s role as a provincial force. In 1950, it assumed responsibility for provincial policing in Newfoundland and absorbed the British Columbia provincial police.  Today the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has evolved into a world-renowned organization of more than 28,000 people.

Photo courtesy of Library & Archives Canada

Read All About It – Early British Columbia Newspapers

Local newspapers reflect the social and cultural life of their communities and thus remain a vital source of information for community members and scholars alike. Enhancing access to this valuable information encourages the study of British Columbia history and brings research material to both historians and genealogists across the province and beyond.

On December 11th, 1858, in the midst of a gold rush, a man with the improbable name Amor de Cosmos inked up an old hand press and launched a newspaper — the British Colonist — into the world.    Published in Victoria, it became the leading paper in the colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, and was the paper for the province of British Columbia until the emergence of Vancouver and competitors in the 1890’s.  The “Online Edition 1858 – 1951” is a treasure trove of information about early British Columbia.

The University of British Columbia archive, “The BC Historical Newspapers Project” features digitized versions of historical papers from around the province. The titles, which range from the Abbotsford Post to the Ymir Miner, date from 1865 to 1994.

Victoria Newspapers 1858 – 1936 – The University of Victoria has an ongoing project to provide access to four indices of approximately forty-five thousand summarized transcripts of articles first appearing in newspapers published on Vancouver Island between 1858 and 1936.

Sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy reading yesterday’s news – you never know what you just may find!

Does Your Family Tree Have Root Rot?

The following tongue-in-cheek article was written by local humour columnist Ray Smit and previously published in the Parksville Qualicum Beach News.

My maternal uncle was an unpretentious kind of guy despite his prestigious upper-management job. His wife was also very nice but nowhere near as down to earth. The source of her pretense was an odd fixation with genealogy  – especially her own. She was convinced that her side of the family tree was majestic and proud whereas his was full of squirrels and nuts.  Her sometimes lofty manner exasperated everyone except my uncle, who found her affectations amusing.  She often commiserated with my mother, expressing her regret that mom’s children had inferior roots.

“Ray, you poor boy, you don’t even have a family crest, do you?”

“No, but we do have a family Colgate and sometimes Pepsodent, if it‘s on sale.”

“You misunderstand. I mean that, unlike you, I know all about my forefathers.”

“You had four fathers? Wow, how come I only got one?”

“No, silly, I’m suggesting that you learn about your ancestors and their peccadilloes.”

“I don’t think Mom would let us have a peccadillo, but she might let us get a gerbil.”

My aunt’s condescension continued unchecked for years. But given the fact that my uncle and his ten siblings had been orphaned, she hypothesized that our family tree must be filled with stable hands and dustmen. After many years, my uncle hired a firm to examine our roots.

We assumed that the report would at the very least show us to be 100 per cent Dutch. After all, there are certain key physical characteristics that Netherland natives share and we have them in spades.  We are tall and blonde and have rather prominent noses.

Anyway, a few months later my uncle presented us with a summary of our genealogical history. Much to everyone’s surprise it turned out we were both Dutch and French. Moreover, our side of the family was related to the French aristocracy right back to Henry the IV, the Bourbon King of France. My aunt was stunned into complete silence.  After the initial shock passed, my aunt began telling anyone who’d listen that her children were ‘aristocrats’ and proud descendants of the House of Bourbon.  As time passed I began to wonder about the genealogical investigation my uncle had commissioned. Surprisingly, no one in our family could ever find an actual copy of the report. Moreover, whenever any of us would ask about our royal lineage, he’d just give a noncommittal smile.

My uncle and aunt have both passed on now. So I guess I’ll never be sure whether my ancestors were barons or bathroom attendants. I might well be the rightful heir to the French throne. Or I might be more suited to cleaning it. Either way, I am the proud owner of my own toilet brush and, whether it be scrubber or scepter, I’m not afraid to use it. So what’s the moral of the story?  If you delve deeply enough, every family tree has its fair share of root rot.

Source:  Parksville Qualicum Beach News,
Thursday, March 30, 2017

Organize Your Digital Files: Tips From Genealogy Guy Drew Smith

Quick — where is the image that you downloaded of your great-grandfather’s will? How about the photo of your grandmother that you scanned or the GEDCOM that your cousin sent to you? Organizing digital files is a necessary task, but it can also be frustrating.

Amy Johnson Crow recently had the opportunity to interview Drew Smith, co-host of the Genealogy Guys podcast (along with George Morgan). Drew literally wrote the book on organizing genealogy, especially those digital files.

Key takeaways:

  • ​Having a structure is key.
  • Structure depends up what you need (the project, theme, etc.)
  • A good structure will be both searchable and browsable.
  • Organization is personal; it needs to work for you.
  • Think about how you name your files.

To view the complete video of the interview, please click here.

Source:  Amy Johnson Crow