Keeping Up with Changes at

Familysearch is one of my favourite websites – there are so much there to help us with our Family History.  I could talk about the great tools for hours!  So don’t ask!

Like all good family history web sites the only constant is change as new data sets and features are added. How do you keep up with the ever changing

  1. Historical Records  is almost constantly being updated – there are (as of 24 Sep) 2142 collections – many of these collections include images.  How do you find our what is new?  Go to – click on the menu Search and select Records.   Then in the lower right quarter of the screen click on Browse All Published Collections under the heading Find a Collection.  This will give you a list of all collections in alphabetical order.  Now click on the column heading Last Updated which sorts the list by date with the newest collections at the beginning of the list.  Eleven collections were added or updated between Sept 16 and Sept 23.  A camera at the left indicates that there are images with the collection.  I always find some interesting new collections when I do this. New York State Census 1905 with over 7.5 million records. US World War 1 Draft Registrations cards, a collection of 24.8 million with images looks interesting.  Wow I didn’t know about the 1911 Denmark Census- 2.7 million records again with images.  Because of my research interests I also like to browse the collection by place so I click on the link to the United Kingdom and Ireland – 126 collections – and then click on Last Updated to see which are the newest collections for the United Kingdom.  1.1 million records from Warwickshire Parish Records have recently been added.
  1. The collection of Genealogies has been updated.  At click on the menu Search and select genealogies. This is where you find the very well researched and sourced collection of Community Trees.  Although the project has ended it has left a legacy of information – go to this article at the familysearch wiki to see the scope of the projects .  The Knowles Collection of Jewish Families is very impressive.  Here are two interesting relatively new collections:
    1.   Guild of One-Name Studies – what is it? “The Guild of One-Name Studies is a charitable organisation dedicated to promoting the public understanding of one-name (surname) studies and the preservation and accessibility of the resultant information.” For more information see the wiki article at .
    2. Oral Genealogies – for Africa and the Pacific regions – it is great to see this work being gathered and made available.

Don’t just go the Genealogies area and do a broad search.  Select the collection you want to search.  How do you do that? On the Search Genealogies screen, immediately under all the boxes where you put in information there is a blue Search button and immediately to the right is the word All which when you click on it turns into a drop down menu so you can select the collection you want to search.  Give it a try!  Search the Guild of One Name Studies.  Try the Community Trees.

Remember:  give a computer as little information as possible to conduct a search – just enough to get good results – you can always add information (Refine Your Search and then Update on the left side of the results screen).

Also remember that Pedigree Resource File is a collection of genealogies contributed by users – has some helpful information but often lacks sources – but many people also re-submitted names that were already submitted to the Ancestral File which has no sources so I select if I want to search the Pedigree Resource File or the Ancestral File and don’t do both.

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Changes Coming to Scotland’s People

OK I admit it – whenever I help one of my friends with their Scottish research I am envious!.  ScotlandsPeople   is a wonderful resource for those doing Scottish research.  But wait, you have to pay to use that site don’t you?  You can’t use free sites all the time.  You have to go to where the records are available – and, in the case of Scotlandspeople, for  a very modest fee you get great information.   I wish there was an EnglandsPeople or a CanadasPeople.  Imagine being able to get copies of your ancestors birth, marriage and death records online immediately and not having to wait weeks for the certificate to arrive in the mail as I do for my English certificates.  The nearest thing to the ScotlandsPeople experience is accessing British Columbia certificates on FamilySearch – and that is free of course!

I buy a few credits at a time at Scotlandspeople –  7 British pounds (less than $14) gets you 30 credits— a surname search is free and when I ask to see a page of index results (not the full details) I know it costs me one credit (less than 50 cents) – and then when I ask to see an actual certificate it costs me 5 credits (about $2.30) – where else can you buy a copy of a certificate for so little?  You can do a search for free and only pay if there are results to see.  I will admit that I search all the other resources first – FamilySearch, Ancestry, and FindMyPast – but the last 2 are subscription sites – and the 3 of them together don’t have the resources available at ScotlandsPeople.

Then this week I got an exciting announcement from ScotlandsPeople – they are going to be launching a new ScotlandsPeople web site.   I view these changes very positively – I know not everyone likes change – I like new resources, new ways of searching and better results.

Here is the announcement:  “ScotlandsPeople will be offline from 23.59 (BST) on Wednesday 21 September until Monday 26 September. This downtime is essential as we work towards the launch of our new ScotlandsPeople website.”

Time for a holiday from Scottish research?  Wonder what will be different after the break?

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Ancestry – some facts and figures

I was very interested to read an article by The Ancestry Insider  this week.  He was attending the 2016 Conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.  One session was by Quinton Atkinson from Ancestry.  I encourage you to read the article here.  During the session Quinton shared the following information that I found very interesting.  Ancestry has 1400 employees worldwide.  They have 18 billion digitized records from 80 countries, and 18 million user trees.  Users have contributed 300 million sharable photos, documents, and stories.  Total storage space for their data?  Over 10 petabytes – I like that unit of measurement. 

How fortunate we are to have such wonderful resources available to help us with our family history.  I’ll be talking about other websites in future articles.

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Canada Census 2016 “Best Census Since 1666”

Well, I have to admit I don’t remember doing the 1666 Census!  But I did participate in the 2016 Census.

Statistics Canada reports the rate of returns was excellent in 2016 – overall 98.4 % of the people completed either the short or long form of the census.  While most Canadians were asked to answer 10 questions in the short form of the census, one in four Canadians – randomly selected – were asked to complete a 36 page long form version. 97.8% of the long form census were completed – the best ever result.

Almost 68% of the people filled the census in online.  As the recipient of a 36 page long form I was very grateful to be able to complete the form online – it was quick and easy.

As genealogists we are grateful for access to past census information.  Wasn’t it great to participate in building a census?

What do you know about the 1666 Census of Canada?
– This was census of New France – the earliest census in Canada and in North America
– Organized by Jean Talon who largely conducted the census by himself – going door to door
– First Nations were not included nor were members of religious orders such as the Jesuits.
– According to the census there were 3215 people – more men than women.


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Canadian Headstones

Looking for burial information for a Canadian ancestor?  Have you tried ?  This was a new website to me – thank you Dick Eastman for making me aware of the site.

The site invites you to “browse over  1,510,000 gravestone photo records from across Canada.” Simply pick your province or territory – which takes you to a page for that Province –  and then click on Cemeteries in the blue line of options near the top of the page.  Select Display Cemeteries within the complete province to get a list of all the cemeteries and the number of headstones in each cemetery.  Of course you could just go directly to a Search – but I like to see which cemeteries are available.

Who are Canadian Headstones?   “The mission of this project is to capture digital images and the complete transcription of  headstones of our ancestors. As decades pass, it is becoming harder – if not impossible – to read the inscriptions these stones originally contained. By archiving the images and transcriptions, these important records are saved.

This Headstone Photo Project is a non-profit organization. Success of the Project depends completely upon the activities of many volunteers and other individuals who contribute photographs to the archive.”

Access and searches are free – although they would welcome a donation.  They also allow ads to pay for the site – so watch where you click.

If you have a deceased Canadian ancestor it’s worth a try!

Alternatives would include:

Find a Grave –

Billion Graves –

The indexes to both Find a Grave and Billion Graves are included in searches of Historical Records at

For just in Alberta you should consider:

Alberta Genealogical Society (AGS) Cemetery Database – over 680,000 surnames – database – but only freely accessible online if you are a member of AGS

Alberta Family History Society has a cemetery database – – with over 197,000 names which is free to use

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If Girls Are Sugar and Spice, Why Do We Keep Looking for Boys?

Why is it so hard to find our female ancestors?

This article arrived in my inbox this week – and I thought you might find it interesting to read – If Girls Are Sugar and Spice, Why Do We Keep Looking for Boys?

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Remembering the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme

1 July 1916 was the first day of the Battle of the Somme.  This was a terrible battle of horrifying magnitude.  The battle lasted 141 days.  One million people were casualties – over 300,000 of them died.  On the first day of the battle nearly 20,000 British troops died!  Such slaughter of human life is unimaginable.  After 141 days the lines of battle had moved just 6 miles. It is good that we stop to remember the Battle of the Somme.

Canadian soldiers took part in this terrible battle.  On 1 July 1916, the first day of the battle, the Newfoundland Regiment was virtually wiped out as they tried to advance at Beaumont Hamel – OK, I know, in 1916 Newfoundland was not part of Canada but still  . . .  “When roll call was taken, only 68 men answered their names – 324 were killed, or missing and presumed dead, and 386 were wounded.”

Want to read more?  This is a link to an article from The Week which tells about the commemoration of the centenary and explains why the battle was significant.  The article ends with this paragraph:

“The horror of the Somme also led to the end of the so-called ‘Pals Battalions’, set up to allow men from the same town to serve together. Amid the carnage it soon became clear that the idea risked devastating whole communities. In one notorious incident on the first day of the Somme, 585 men of the 700-strong Accrington Pals were killed or wounded in the space of 20 minutes.  After the Somme, no more Pals Battalions were formed, while the existing battalions were gradually incorporated into other units.”

Here is a link to an excellent article about the Newfoundland Regiment and the Battle of the Somme.

Did you have an ancestor who was at the Battle of the Somme?

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