Remembering World War 1 – and the impact on your family history.

World War 1 – also known as the Great War and  “the war to end all wars” – began in 1914 – One hundred years ago. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand took place on 28 June 1914 – diplomatic maneuvering failed to prevent the war.  While the first shots were fired on 28 July 1914, Britain did not officially declare war until 4 August  when Germany invaded neutral Belgium.  This year is the centenary!

This tragic and brutal war lasted 4 years and over 9 million combatants were killed – no body knows the exact number.  This had a dramatic impact on society, culture, families, villages, towns, and cities. World War 1 had a great impact on Canada.

My father told me story of a bombing raid by a Zeppelins airship in Nottingham, England – as a small boy I thought he was just making it all up – he had quite a sense of humor! .

 “The glow from Nottingham’s blast furnace chimneys made the city an easy target for Kaptinleutnant Herman Kraushaar, commanding L17, when he raided between 12.00 and 1.00 am on 24 September 1916. Eight high explosive and eleven incendiaries were dropped on what Kraushaar thought was Sheffield, killing three and injuring seventeen. The Midland Railway freight station was wrecked and damaged caused to the Great Central Railway Station and railway track. Bombs also affected Lister Gate, Greyfriar Gate and Broad Marsh. Little resistance was offered to the attack: a blanket of mist rising from the Trent obscured the German airship from below, whilst one of its bombs by fluke severed the telephone wires connecting the AA battery and searchlights at Sneinton, preventing their cooperation.” Thomas Fegan “The Baby Killers – German Air Raids on Britain in the First World War” (Pen & Sword 2002).  My father was living just down the road from the Midland Railway station near to Broad Marsh! I wish I had asked him more about it

Which of your ancestors were involved in World War 1?  Were any of them casualties?  What did your ancestors do during the war?  Where did they serve? Do you have family stories from this time? 

My great grandfather’s first wife had died in 1890 leaving him with 2 young boys – they had only married in 1881.  He remarried by the end of 1890 and his second wife – whose knee I remember sitting on as a small boy – had one son, Charlie.  He went to war and died in northern Greece after surviving the horrors of the Dardanelles campaign.  She lost her only son!  He died on her birthday!

Where can we learn about our Ancestors and World War 1?  My starting place was the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) –   Here you can put in the name of someone you think may have died – and be surprised at what you find.  

I always imagined Uncle Charlie dying in Flanders Field in a trench . . . .  What a surprise to find his grave in Greece!  I even get to see a picture of the cemetery! Advanced search will let you specify if you want to search World War 1 or 2 , search by country of origin and military service number.  Remember to be careful how you search – was he Charlie Darker, or Charles or just C?  I found him by searching with just his last name – wouldn’t do that if he was a Smith! You can even download a nice certificate.

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The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has a special website to help us learn about World War 1

Several countries including Canada have military records online – use the wiki at to find my information.  For Canada go to   Both and have extensive collections of military records to search.  The Memories section at is an excellent place to record stories and preserve pictures.

Find out about your ancestors and how World War 1 impacted their lives – record and preserve their stories and pictures.

Did you know that there are war graves in Red Deer? – and that the CWGC still pays money each year for their upkeep.

Did you know that Winnie the Pooh had his origins in World War 1.  Winnipeg the bear – Winnie for short – was the mascot for Canadian Soldiers who gave him to London Zoo when they were sent to France.  A A Milne and his son Christopher Robin went to the zoo, saw Winnie, and was inspired to write a series of stories about him.

There are lots of other interesting animal stories from World War 1 – Jimmy the donkey was born during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, was wounded 3 times during the war, learnt to raise his hoof in salute, and survived the war – glow worms were collected and used as lanterns in the trenches!

Other websites of interest:

National Archives in the UK

The Imperial War Museum in partnership with FindMyPast are gathering and publishing stories of the lives from World War 1

The British Broadcasting Corporation has a special World War 1 website

Canadian War Museum

and many many more . . . .

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Join the Worldwide Indexing Event

Join volunteers from around the world on July 20 and 21 for an international history-making event! The goal? For 50,000 indexers and arbitrators to submit at least one batch in a 24-hour period! Do more if you would like, but one batch is all that is required to be counted in the record.

Note the times – Starts 6 p.m. MDT (Mountain Daylight Time) on July 20 and ends 5.59 p.m. MDT on July 21 – so 24 hours!

Here is the full details from the FamilySearch blog

“On July 2, 2012, a total of 49,025 FamilySearch indexers and arbitrators joined together to set the all-time record for the most indexing participants in a single day. That lofty record is about to be broken—by you!

Join volunteers from around the world on July 20 and 21 for an international history-making event! The goal? For 50,000 indexers and arbitrators to submit at least one batch in a 24-hour period! Do more if you would like, but one batch is all that is required to be counted in the record!

This remarkable goal will require help from every current indexer and arbitrator out there, plus many new volunteers,*but it can be achieved if generous volunteers like you commit to participate. So mark your calendar and spread the word! Invite friends and family to join you. Organize an indexing party; create a fun family challenge or a society or church service project. Everyone is needed. Everyone can make a difference!

No matter where you live or what language you speak, you can participate and add to this historic worldwide achievement. You may choose to work on any project you prefer. However, we suggest that you work on the following projects in your native language:

  • US—Obituaries, 1980–2014
  • US—Passport Applications, 1795-1925
  • US, New Orleans—Passenger Lists, 1820-1902
  • UK, Manchester—Parish Registers, 1787-1999

The record-setting begins at 00:00 coordinated universal time (UTC) on July 21, which is 6:00 p.m. mountain daylight time (MDT or Utah time) on Sunday, July 20. It ends 24 hours later, at 23:59 UTC (or 5:59 p.m. MDT) on Monday, July 21. Check the FamilySearch Facebook event page for your local start time and status updates.

Through the selfless efforts of worldwide volunteers like you, millions of people have found their ancestors. At the end of this exciting 24-hour event, millions more records will be available and ancestors will be found!

One batch is all it takes. Don’t miss your chance on July 20 and 21 to be part of this history-making event! Plan now to get involved and add your name to the record-setting legacy!

*New indexers can visit to learn more about how to join the FamilySearch indexing effort.”


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FamilySearch Now Has One Billion Digital Images Online in the Historical Record Collection

On 23 June 2014 FamilySearch announced :” the online publication of its one billionth image of historic records at, a feat that took just 7 years to accomplish. If you don’t have the time or means to travel where your ancestors walked, perhaps you can begin unveiling their fascinating lives through the tidal waves of new online historic records that can recount the stories of their lives. “

Some interesting facts:

“FamilySearch started preserving and providing access to the world’s historical records for genealogy purposes in 1938 using microfilm and distributing copies of the film through its global network of 4,600 local FamilySearch centers. In 2007, it made the shift to digital preservation and access technology and began publishing its massive historic records collections online.

It took 58 years to publish the first two billion images of historic records on microfilm—which was limited to patrons of its local FamilySearch centers and affiliate public libraries. In the past 7 years, it has been able to publish one billion images at, which expands access to anyone, anywhere, with Internet access. DeGiulio projects the next billion images should take about 3 to 5 years to publish.

70% of the online images currently come from FamilySearch’s initiative to digitally convert its huge microfilm collection for online access. 25% comes from new camera operations—275 camera teams digitally imaging new historic records in 45 countries that have never seen the light of day or the Internet. And 5% come from agreements with partnering organizations.

Currently, FamilySearch publishes about 200 million images of historic records online each year (averaging about 500,000 per day) making the vast majority of them accessible for the first time to more people from anywhere in the world.”

For the full article go to


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The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers has been digitized and is available at!

Better a day late???

Wow!  Just announced in the Ancestry blog This is great news for anyone doing research in  Great Britain – that is England, Scotland or Wales!  Never available before in digital format that I am aware – this along with the Imperial Gazetteer of 1872 are foundation research tools.  The Imperial Gazetteer is also available at and elsewhere on the internet.

Here is the description of the Phillimore Atlas:

“Parish registers are a vital resource for the period prior to civil registration, which began in England and Wales in 1837. When looking for registers, it’s important to know what the parish boundaries were at a specific point in time because many parish boundaries have changed over the centuries. For example, beginning in the 1830s many of the larger old, or “ancient,” parishes began being split up into smaller parishes.

The Phillimore Atlas outlines old parishes prior to 1832 and provides the date of the earliest surviving registers for the parish. The atlas includes England, Wales, and Scotland.

Some counties included hundreds of parishes, so knowing a parish’s location is a huge help when you’re trying to locate your ancestor’s parish records. In addition, your ancestor may have left records in several nearby parishes, all while living in the same area. The Phillimore Atlas provides an easy way to see what parishes were in the area prior to 1832 so you can do a thorough search.

The maps we have available do not have the grid printed along the sides. All maps have a grid range from A1 to M10, with the letters falling along the longest side.”

This is one of my treasured books!  – but the digital online version looks even easier to read!

How do you find this on the Ancestry web site?  Go to the menu Search and select Card Catalog – and then on the next screen Sort by Date Added

Don’t have an Ancestry membership?  Head to your local Family History Centre

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Getting the Most from

Did you know that you can still access videos from RootsTech 2014?

One of our favourites – there were many good ones! – was a talk by Christa Cowan from – “How to Get the Most from”  – this video was shared at our FH Fair in late February – and is available for  you to view from home.

Go to – and look for the link to 2014 videos at the top of the screen.  There are a lot available.  Scroll down to find Christa!

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Explore 375 years of new Devon parish records

If you have ancestors from Devon then this is a good news message!  Devon is one of the larger counties in England.  This announcement tells of the addition of the remaining Devon records to the online collection at FindMyPast – so now the entire collection from 1538 to 1915 is available, over 4 million records!

From the FindMyPastBlog dated 30 May 2014

“Spanning 1538 to 1915, the Devon Collection is a rich source comprising over 4 million fully searchable transcripts and scanned colour images of the handwritten parish registers held by the record offices in Barnstaple and Exeter.

With Plymouth and West Devon Record Office’s records already available on findmypast, these new additions mean that findmypast’s Devon Collection is the best possible place to find Devonshire ancestors.

Famous Devonians in our records

The baptism, marriage and burial records of many notable Devonians are stored within the collection. The baptism of literary icon Samuel Taylor Coleridge, author of ‘Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’ and founder of the Romantic Movement, can be viewed in records from the parish of Ottery St Mary.

Crime writer Agatha Christie’s baptism record appears in the parish register of Tormohun in 1890 under her maiden name Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller.

Legendary explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton, who was famous for completing the Hajj to Mecca disguised as a pilgrim, translating the Karma Sutra into English and becoming the first European to visit the great lakes of Africa amongst other exploits, was born in Torquay in 1821 and is recorded in the collection.

Born in Devon: The father of the computer 

The records also include the polymath Charles Babbage, who is widely considered to be the father of the computer. Records of his 1814 marriage were kept by the parish of East Teignmouth. Sir John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough and ancestor of Winston Churchill was born in the parish of Musbury at the height of the Civil War. He was a legendary soldier who revolutionised the British army in the late 17th century and was, for a time, one of the richest men in England. Details of his baptism can also be viewed in the archives.

VC winner and hero of the Zulu wars, Sir Redvers Henry Buller, is yet another famous military man from the county. Sir Redvers was widely celebrated before his disastrous leadership during the Second Boer War saw him sacked by the Minister for War, St. John Brodrick. He was born in Crediton in 1839 and died there in 1908, with both events being recorded by the parish.

Travel and emigration 

The records are also of international significance as many historic Devonians emigrated to Canada, the US and Australia to work in the booming mining, fishing and agricultural industries. Devon’s position on the west coast meant that it was often used as a jumping off point for those headed to the United Sates.

The Mayflower, the ship that carried the first pilgrims across the Atlantic, departed from Plymouth and the Devon Collection houses records that predate this famous voyage. These new records will help people from all over the world to trace their ancestral roots back to the county.

The Devon Collection adds to findmypast’s already extensive cache of parish records, the largest available online. These records allow family historians to go as far back as the 1500s, and with more parish records still to come as part of the 100in100 promise, family historians can now explore their more distant roots more easily than ever before.”

Thank you to Dick Eastman for making me aware of this article

FindMyPast is available for free in your local Family History Centre

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New scanning service from FamilySearch available at Family History Centres

In a blog article dated 21 May 2014 FamilySearch describes how they are going to help us with our old Photographs and Documents

“FamilySearch International (online at announced today a new, free family photo and document scanning and preservation service for patrons in thousands of its North American family history centers. Patrons can now digitally preserve and share their precious printed historic family photos and documents using customized Lexmark multifunction products (MFPs).

“We all have them. You know, the kitchen or dresser drawers, paper boxes or plastic bags, scrapbooks or folders—all full of family photos, vital records, and other keepsake correspondence from our ancestors,” said Penney Devey, FamilySearch Director of Worldwide Patron and Partner Services. “These family artifacts are constant reminders of our heartfelt good intentions to someday preserve, organize, share or tell their hidden stories for posterity. We just don’t know where to start, how to do it, or feel we can’t afford it.”

Well, thanks to FamilySearch and Lexmark, the future is now here. And there is now a very convenient, free solution to each family’s photo and historic document preservation and sharing needs readily accessible to almost everyone.”

See the rest of the article at:

Check your local FH Centre to see if they have the necessary equipment!  Looks like a great service!

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