Sunday, 31 August 2014

Wha's like us? - WDYTYA Live Glasgow 2014

The last two days have seen the Who Do You Think You Are Live event (www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.com) come to Glasgow for the first time. Despite the shock cancellation two weeks ago of the Sunday part of what was originally planned to be a three day event (which irked many vendors and led to a massive air of uncertainty as to how things would go) the event proved to be a massive success, at least for those exhibiting and attending. For many at the event, they had previously attended family history shows in Scotland, not least of which last week's fantastic event organised by the Lanarkshire Family History Society in Motherwell - but the brand behind WDYTYA elevates such shows to a new level, attracting many more exhibitors and vendors from much further afield. In Scotland we have not seen such a show on this scale before, and the public was most definitely hungry for it.

For two days I was extremely fortunate to be able to work alongside an Australian colleague, Alan Phillips, who brought his Unlock the Past (www.unlockthepast.com.au) cruises and book range all the way from Adelaide for his second WDYTYA Live show this year, having previously exhibited in London. Over the last three years I have produced a few genealogy books for him for the Australian market predominantly on Scottish and Irish themes, as well as having participated as a speaker on an Australian talks tour and on two of his successful genealogy cruises at sea (and will be doing so again on another sailing next July from England to the Baltic). From a personal point of view, it was great to see that my books, and many others in the range, are now being published in the UK for the first time, thanks to a new partnership agreement with Yorkshire based My History (www.my-history.co.uk), so these will soon become much easier to obtain on this side of the world. The titles can also be accessed as ebooks from www.gen-ebooks.com. We had a busy two days on the stand, the cruises in particular drawing a lot of interest. I've written about these extensively in the past, but to summarise - cruises, good weather, conferences, ballrooms, sunbeds, pools, daytrips, archives, good food, good company, origami towel animals!!! (see the cruises tag label on the right of this blog page for reports on what to expect!).

Friday was a very busy day to start with, and tailed off a bit in the afternoon, whereas Saturday was just manic from start to finish, up there with the busiest of busy days ever seen at London's Olympia venue, where the show has only exhibited previously. A major cause for concern prior to the event was that so many big vendors from the genealogy world would seemingly not be attending - no sign of My Heritage, British Newspaper Archive, FindmyPast, The Genealogist, the National Archives and others, for example, who frequently attend Olympia. In fact, in hindsight, they were genuinely not missed, as the Scottish offerings on many of these sites are limited at best - with the exceptions perhaps of TNA and the British Newspaper Archive, which would have done the business easily, and as a Scottish based company (headquartered in Dundee), it was felt really should have been there by many folk who I spoke to. But many other big vendors that had previously exhibited did attend, not least of which was Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk), which was mobbed from start to finish. ScotlandsPeople and the National Records of Scotland were there, equally backed up with queues for the whole event, and others such as FamilySearch.

But for many vendors, this was virgin territory. It's all too easy to think that with the annual hype over Who Do You Think You Are Live that it is a product that everyone must somehow know up here, but London is 300 miles away and at best gets three or four Scottish vendors exhibiting a year. In Glasgow, however, it was time to play for many for the very first time, and Scotland turned up in force. We had family history societies from the length and breadth of the country, the National Library of Scotland, the Mitchell Library from Glasgow, SCRAN, the Scottish Council on Archives, various local archives, Visit Scotland, the Universities of Strathclyde and Dundee, Scottish Monumental Inscriptions, and just about all of my colleagues from the Scottish Genealogy Network were floating about somewhere to help out in some capacity or another! From south of the border we had the Society of Genealogists, the Federation of Family History Societies, Deceased Online, My History and others, whilst from Ireland we had the Ulster Historical Foundation, the North of Ireland Family History Society, APGI and Ancestor Network. And many, many others, including exhibitors from Belgium and the Netherlands.


There were many personal highlights over the two days. I was very proud to be able to give a talk on Friday about the history of Scottish marriage to a Glasgow audience, which was packed out, many having to stand alongside the edges of the theatre to listen in. I've given many talks in London at WDYTYA Live, but the Weegies have a sense of humour unparalleled on earth (my granny was one!!), and we had a great craic for an hour or so. My colleague Marie Dougan, who runs Ancestral Consultants (www.ancestralconsultants.com), and who was also on the Unlock the Past stall, gave two talks on technology and genealogy over the two days, and after each of these I participated in a panel of genies to discuss issues raised, with some great questions from the audience.

I also did a couple of Ask the Expert sessions, where visitors could book twenty minute sessions to ask for advice - and on Saturday, who was the expert seated at my table before me but none other than Irish genealogy god John Grenham! The sessions were fully booked out and great fun to work on - a couple of women came to seek advice from me in the first of 3 sessions in an hour slot on Saturday, with one of them having a specific query, which I gave some suggestions on. They trotted off, and I dealt with another member of the public, but twenty minutes later the first two ladies came back for another slot - this time with the other woman now seeking help - I thought it was Groundhog Day at first! And speaking of catching up with folk again, a woman I met in London two years ago, whose ancestor's murder I had written about in my book The Mount Stewart Murder, which was investigated by the same chief constable at the same time that my own ancestor's murder was being investigated, popped by to say thanks for all the suggestions I gave her in London on how to find the murder trial papers!

I managed to speak to a few exhibitors briefly. Robin Urquhart from the National Records of Scotland mentioned a fantastic initiative in securing kirk records from the Netherlands (Rotterdam and Veen), which not only acted as session records and minutes, but also as consular records affecting many from across Britain. How these will be made available is still under discussion, but they are being translated, and it remains to be seen if they will be published in book form or perhaps with some form of online access.

The Scottish Cultural Resources Network (www.scran.ac.uk) was there, with Andrew Nicoll, formerly of the Catholic Archive and ScotlandsPlaces, now on the team, and he briefed about many updates soon to happen to the site - watch this space. Miriam Silverman was back in Glasgow, she's Ancestry's key archival scout, constantly looking for new materials for the site - I met her a while back in the Mitchell Library on one of her trips to Scotland, but she has been back regularly visiting various establishments, so hopefully we'll see more Scots content on the site soon! (Still stunned at how the team managed to get so many Irish Catholic parish records on the platform a few months back!). I also had a quick catch up with the University of Dundee team, for whom I will soon be writing an Irish family history module for their postgraduate genealogy courses - again, watch this space, I'm very much looking forward to it!

On Friday evening a huge number of genealogists hit the town for a meal, with some great craic, and a huge thanks must go to Emma Maxwell, secretary of the Scottish Genealogy Network and with her husband Graham, one half of the duo working for Maxwell Ancestry and the new Scottish Indexes platform (www.scottishindexes.com). Another seriously massive thanks must go to Else Churchill of the Society of Genealogists for all her efforts, and those of the SoG team, in getting the talks programme sorted - I didn't see a single talk that was not booked out. Glasgow was hungry for a great lecture programme at the event, and that's what the SoG delivered.

Finally, one of the reasons cited for the cancellation of the Sunday event was "poor ticket sales" in advance, but a member of Immediate told me that they had been bowled over by the number of walk-ins on the Saturday in particular - they had never had so many people just walk in off the street without a pre-booking at a WDYTYA event before. It had been put to me previously that perhaps Glasgow could not sustain a three day event - but then (and with lip firmly bitten!), I would have to retort that we didn't do too badly with the recent Commonwealth Games! Glasgow is not London or Bristol, it is a different market, a different culture, and has a different way of doing things - and it is fair to say that a bit more notice in announcing the event, and better advertising, may certainly have helped. I personally think Immediate were wrong to cancel Sunday, and that may be something it will need to reflect on for future events, particularly in its relationship with vendors, because whilst Immediate may hire a room, the vendors make the show, and they are its currency - an asset that needs to be invested in wisely and not just taken for granted. Despite such an error, the public received everything they deserved from the two days that were available to them, and that goes down to the energy and passion of the Scottish genealogy community, and those who came to play with us from elsewhere in the UK, and from overseas.

As the saying goes here: Wha's like us? Damn few an' they're a' deid! 




















Chris

Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And please consider purchasing the great new version of Caledonia by The Libations at 79p via www.caledonia2014.com - all profits go to help fund Scottish foodbanks

Thursday, 28 August 2014

My 5 week Scottish Research Online course starts 3 SEP

My next Scottish Research Online course, taught through Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd (www.pharostutors.com), starts on September 3rd. The course is five weeks long, costs £45.99 and is taught entirely online. The following is a quick summary of what to expect.

Scottish Research Online

Scotland was first to have major records digitized and offer indexes and images online. It has also been a leader in placing resource information on the World Wide Web. This course describes the major sites, the types of information and data that they offer, the forms in which databases are presented and how to analyze results. You will learn to lay the foundations for searching a family, how to select best resources and what to do next either online or in libraries and archives.

Instructor: Chris Paton

Scotlands People, Family Search, Ancestry, FreeCen: content, comparison, assessment
Essential Maps and Gazetteers
Civil Registration and Census Research Online
Searching in Church of Scotland Registers Online
Scottish Wills and Inventories Online
(Take It From Here)

Note: it is recommended but not required that students in this course sign up for the basic search option, 30 units/seven days, at ScotlandsPeople (cost is seven pounds)

Each lesson includes exercises and activities; a minimum of 1 one-hour chat.

STUDENTS SAID: "I particularly liked the fact that the course didn't just focus on the well-known BMD resources available, but on a much wider range of websites, including many which give extremely useful background information on the geography and history of the localities where our ancestors lived." "a very knowledgeable Instructor"

And here's a wee video setting the scene:



NB: Over the next two days, to tie in with Who Do You Think You Are Live coming to Glasgow, there will be a promotional code entitling you to 10% discount on the course price - the code is WDYTYA.

Hopefully see you there!

Chris

Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And please consider purchasing the great new version of Caledonia by The Libations at 79p via www.caledonia2014.com - all profits go to help fund Scottish foodbanks

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Fyvie Homecoming Festival

Fyvie Homecoming Festival kicks off from August 28th-31st, with the event including a family history fair on Sunday 31st at Fyvie Castle. Present at the event will be Fyvie Heritage, Turriff & District Heritage Society and Aberdeen and North East Family History Society/ Full details are available at http://www.fyviehomecoming2014.com/events/120-tracing-your-family-history

Chris

Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And please consider purchasing the great new version of Caledonia by The Libations at 79p via www.caledonia2014.com - all profits go to help fund Scottish foodbanks

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Ancestry adds Irish Marriages in Walker's Hibernian Magazine

Ancestry has a new Irish collection: Ireland, Marriages in Walker's Hibernian Magazine, 1771-1812, located at http://search.ancestry.co.uk/search/db.aspx?dbid=9141. The following is a description of the dataset:

This database is an index to Irish marriages from the years 1771 to 1812 as found in Walker's Hibernian Magazine (first issued in 1771 and discontinued in 1812). It also includes as an appendix a list of births, marriages, and deaths for the years 1793 and 1794 from the Anthologia Hibernica.

Marriages are listed under both the husband's and the wife's surnames. This double listing optimizes your search capabilities because if you do not know one name, you can search under the other and find out what the spouse's name is.

Source: Farrar, Henry. Irish Marriages: Being an Index to the Marriages in Walker's Hibernian Magazine, 1771 to 1812. London, England: Phillimore & Co., 1897.

Chris

Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And please consider purchasing the great new version of Caledonia by The Libations at 79p via www.caledonia2014.com - all profits go to help fund Scottish foodbanks

TNA podcast - Victorian murder

The latest podcast from the National Archives at Kew is entitled Did she kill him? Addiction, adultery and arsenic in Victorian Britain, a 47 minute talk by Kate Colquhoun.

The podcast is available at http://media.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php/kill-addiction-adultery-arsenic-victorian-britain/ or can be freely downloaded from iTunes.

Chris

Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And please consider purchasing the great new version of Caledonia by The Libations at 79p via www.caledonia2014.com - all profits go to help fund Scottish foodbanks

AGRA updates membership criteria

AGRA, the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives, is a body representing professional genies based in England and Wales. It has just announced a major change to its membership criteria - here's the release:

AGRA, the body representing professional genealogists in England and Wales, has recently announced radical changes to both its Membership and Associateship criteria.

All applicants wishing to join the association will now have to attend an interview and in most cases will also be asked to undergo practical tests. The new rules also attach greater importance to formal qualifications and ongoing learning.

Under the new procedure, prospective Members and Associates will have a “face to face” discussion with AGRA’s Board of Assessors to determine their genealogical knowledge and business approach. Membership candidates may be set a research assignment, while Associates will be asked to demonstrate basic genealogical skills.

The Board has been deliberating for some time how the application process could be improved to keep pace with the changing nature of the field. Rising interest in family history has resulted in many more people entering the profession, drawn from a wider range of backgrounds. Potential Members will still be required to submit a portfolio of completed client work, as before, but the Board has come to the conclusion that this alone is no longer a sufficient basis on which to select Members.

Said Geoff Swinfield (member of the Board of Assessors): “AGRA plays a key role in setting standards within the profession. If AGRA is to be relevant in the future it must give its Members the opportunity to demonstrate that they meet the exacting standards which fit them to offer their services to the fee-paying public.”

The new criteria also take into account the growing availability and importance of formal qualifications within the genealogy profession. The Board feels that anyone setting out to become a professional genealogist with genuine commitment should already have, or be actively studying towards, a qualification in genealogy; this has therefore been made part of the minimum requirement for acceptance into the Associate scheme. Membership candidates who hold certain higher level qualifications, currently from IHGS (the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies) and Strathclyde University, will have the added advantage of being exempt from some of the entrance criteria.

In recognition of the importance of ongoing learning within this fast-changing profession, all candidates will be expected to provide evidence that they are engaging in continuing professional development.

These changes will ensure that AGRA Membership remains a hallmark of quality for professional genealogists practising in England & Wales, and that the Associate scheme attracts committed and able candidates with the potential to progress to Membership.

The new criteria take effect from 1st September 2014. Documents describing the new criteria in detail can be found by following the “membership application” link on the Join AGRA page of the website: www.AGRA.org.uk

Chris

Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And please consider purchasing the great new version of Caledonia by The Libations at 79p via www.caledonia2014.com - all profits go to help fund Scottish foodbanks

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Doing the ice bucket challenge!

My son fitted me up - I got nominated to do the ALS ice bucket challenge! As I'm a genealogist, it was only fitting that I nominated several members of my family to follow suit...! :)

Here goes...



(It's also available at http://youtu.be/-Nrg4H3aQ14)

The ALS challenge is raising money for motor neurone disease. To make a donation to MND Scotland please text ICED14, with your chosen donation amount, to 70070 - further details are available at http://www.mndscotland.org.uk/2014/08/ice-bucket-challenge/

(Thanks Jamie...!)

Chris

Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And please consider purchasing the great new version of Caledonia by The Libations at 79p via www.caledonia2014.com - all profits go to help fund Scottish foodbanks

Friday, 22 August 2014

FreeBMD server upgrade

I've just picked up on a message from FreeBMD (www.freebmd.org.uk), the volunteer project to make freely accessible all indexes to English and Welsh birth, marriage and death indexes from 1837-1983. The site is updating its servers, which may temporarily lead to some performance issues:

You might have noticed that there has been a delay with the most recent update to the FreeBMD database. We are currently planning on moving the site to new servers and we will update the database when that move is completed. We apologise for any inconvenience this might cause but hope that the move to new servers will help us to provide a better service in long run. We anticipate that the move will happen over the next couple of weeks and during that time there might be short periods where the site is unavailable, or certain facilities are unavailable, but we are working to try and keep disruption to a minimum. Thank you, in advance, for your patience whilst we complete this. Progress as of 31st July: We are currently testing how FreeBMD works on our new servers; this is ongoing and we don't have a firm date when it will be completed. Thank you for your continued patience. We will provide further information on progress by the end of August.

Chris

Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And please consider purchasing the great new version of Caledonia by The Libations at 79p via www.caledonia2014.com - all profits go to help fund Scottish foodbanks

Smithsonian Institute launches Transcription Centre site

This one is interesting, courtesy of the American magazine, Family Tree (not to be confused with the British one of the same name!). It concerns the Smithsonian Institution's new Transcription Centre website at https://transcription.si.edu/ to crowdsource a volunteer effort to make its records even more accessible. The article is available at http://blog.familytreemagazine.com/insider/2014/08/22/SmithsonianLaunchesWebsiteToCrowdsourceOldDocumentTranscriptions.aspx.

Chris

Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And please consider purchasing the great new version of Caledonia by The Libations at 79p via www.caledonia2014.com - all profits go to help fund Scottish foodbanks

PRONI's First World War conference in Belfast

Details of PRONI's forthcoming First World War conference in Belfast:

CONFERENCE: Researching The First World War: Sources and Resources
When: 5th September 2014, 10am - 4.30pm
Where: PRONI

To mark the launch of PRONI’s Guide to First World War sources (see http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/proni-launches-first-world-war-records.html) we will be hosting a conference. This will be aimed at community groups and researchers. It is designed to illustrate the sources in PRONI for First World War research and the other resources available to groups or individuals planning First World War projects.

The Keynote address will be given by Dr Timothy Bowman of University of Kent, on “Ireland In The First World War”. There will also be contributions from Jason Bourke on “East Belfast and the Great War”, and The Museums of the Royal Irish Regiment. Speakers from The Living Legacies 1914-18 Engagement Centre at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland Screen, Community Relations Council and Heritage Lottery Fund will also be attending.

Please email (proni@dcalni.gov.uk) or call (028 90 534800) to reserve your place, admission is FREE.

(With thanks to PRONI)

Chris

Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And please consider purchasing the great new version of Caledonia by The Libations at 79p via www.caledonia2014.com - all profits go to help fund Scottish foodbanks