Monday, 30 November 2009

Google Doodles as SNP launches Independence paper

People get awfully upset at the slightest of things! Was Google's decision to use the St Andrew's Day theme on its site today anything to do with Wee Eck's launch of a white paper on independence today?! See

Incidentally, STV has also revealed Robert Burns to be the Greatest Scot of all time in the company's series of the same name, as voted by the public. Not sure I am in agreement there - the greatest Scot of all time was clearly the guy who was head chef at Creme de la Creme Indian restaurant on Glasgow's Argyll Street many years back. Whoever he was!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Arcalife upgrade

From genealogical social networking and all round good egg site!

Dear valued arcalife member,

In celebration of our site leaving beta, current members can upgrade to a Lifetime membership for just $49.95.*

This is an amazing saving of 80% from the regular membership price of $250.

Upgrade your account by Dec 12th, 2009, and you can order a free 16.5”x23.4” family tree wall print. [reg. $30]. A perfect gift for a loved one over the holiday season.

The other advantages of being a lifetime member at arcalife?

Our lifetime members can pass on their digital estate to future generations, take advantage of 10gb of eternal storage space, get unlimited access to all our tools including Family Tree, Timeline, Photo galleries and Life Archives, as well as receive discounted services.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Happy Saint Andrew's Day!

Nuff said - have a good 'un!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Intrigues on the death of James III

As part of the Open Secret exhibition, the National Archives of Scotland discusses the mysterious death of James III, and carries a document referring to the incident, on its website at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Homecoming finale

This Sunday sees Alex Salmond open the Burns Cottage in Alloway, with many other events also lined up for the finale of Homecoming Scotland.

For more, see

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Friday, 27 November 2009

1939 update - the decision

The Information Commissioner’s decision re: the 1939 National Registration census for England and Wales is now online at

Case Ref: FS50248664 Date: 09/11/2009
Public Authority: NHS Information Centre

(With thank to Guy Etchells)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Academics at war over BBC history series

(Thanks to Sheena Tait for the following story tip off via Twitter!)

It seems that its handbags at dawn as the academic community gets stuck into each other over the BBC's History of Scotland series. The full story is at

The premise is that one academic is awfully upset at the main presenter, who is an archaeologist (and a "pygmy on a giant’s territory" apparently), but he's incredibly upset about another academic, who was rather upset about the series, etc etc!

Basically, a classic case of worthies at war over who would have made the series better if only they had been calling the shots.


Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Medical registers released on Family Relatives

From Family Relatives ( (abridged): today launched over one million records of Doctors, Dentist and Midwives spanning over 90 years from 1853 to 1943. The records provide a fascinating insight and invaluable resource to anyone researching the background of any family member who was a doctor, a dentist or midwife.

A dedicated team at spent several months painstakingly scanning and indexing original medical registers allowing them to be searched on different criteria including surname, forename and date to provide one of the most comprehensive and accurate databases available.

The records pre-date the foundation in 1858 of the General Medical Council, set up in a back room of what is now the University of Worcester to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the community. Prior to 1858 anyone could call themselves a medical practitioner with some of the treatments worse than the disease and devices resembling ancient instruments of torture but it gave an insight into Victorian imagination and ingenuity. The years 1853 to 1943 saw remarkable developments in the field of medicine and notable medical practitioners:

John Snow (1813-1858) - Discovered Cholera
Joseph Lister (1838-1912) Discovered Carbolic Acid (Antiseptic)
Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) - His discovery saved 200 million people
Sir Ronald Ross (1857-1932) - Identified mosquitoes as the cause of malaria

Medical Records:

Medical Registers & Midwives Roll & Dentist
London & Provincial Medical directory 1853
Medical Register 1858
Medical Register 1878
Medical Register 1891
Medical Register 1896
Medical Register 1904
Nisbet's Medical Directory 1909
Nisbet's Medical Directory 1912
Medical Register 1913
Medical Register 1919
Midwives Roll 1920
Medical Register 1924
Medical Register 1926
Medical Register 1932
Medical Directory 1934
Medical Register 1938
Medical Register 1940
Medical Register 1943

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

1939 census update - appeal decision early December

I've just received news that it will be early December before the NHS Information Centre announces whether it will be appealing against the recent Information Commissioner's ruling with regards to the release of part of the 1939 National Registration census, for data concerning information on individuals now deceased who were enumerated (as broken on this blog on November 11th - see

The BBC has also now picked up on the story today - see

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Staffordshire gold valuation

The Anglo-Saxon gold hoard found in Staffordshire recently has just been valued at £3.285 million.

Still waiting to hear about the Stirling gold torcs!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

TNA closures at Kew

If you are planning to head south to Kew to do some research, the following from Simon Fowler's Ancestors magazine blog is worth taking a note of:

Over Christmas and the New Year, The National Archives will be closed from Christmas Eve to Monday 28 December 2009 and from New Year’s Day and 2 January 2010. All dates are inclusive.

Incidentally the Archives will be closed for Stocktaking between Friday 4 December and Tuesday 8 December

From 4 January The National Archives will be open five days a week (Tuesday to Saturday). Opening hours and document ordering times have been increased and will be: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday opening hours 9am-5pm (document ordering 9am-4.15pm); Thursday 9am-7pm (document ordering 9am-5pm). Find out more at

Personally speaking, I just stepped out of the front door ten minutes ago into a blustering hail storm, walking across a sea of ice to reach my local shop, which is just two minutes away, to buy some gas and electric to top up my meters. Personally speaking, I am going nowhere until the sun returns to Scotland. In other words - I am now on weather strike!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Irish gravestone inscriptions online

About 60,000 names can be searched on a new Irish Origins collection, sourced from Brian Cantwell's Memorials of the Dead, a record of monumental inscriptions obtained mainly within Wicklow, Wexford and southern Dublin, as well as Sligo, Clare, Cork, Galway and Kildare, between 1970 and 1990. The collection was previously published on CD by Eneclann in 2005.

From the site:
"These transcriptions covered all visible and legible memorials in graveyards that had a date of 1880 or before and all surviving interior church memorials."

There's further information on the collection at

(With thanks to Alan Stewart's Grow Your Own Family Tree

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Raising money for Parkinsons

Bryn Williams, a schoolfriend of mine from Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland, and now based in Glasgow, was diagnosed a couple of years back with Parkinson's. He has since been working flat out to raise money for various charities and organisations, both researching the disease and caring for sufferers. To date he has raised £96,859 - it would be great if SGNE blog readers could help to nudge that further towards the £100,000 mark!

Bryn's website is at and any donation made by a British tax payer will also have added value through the Gift Aid scheme.

Many thanks,

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Gretna marriages 1784-1895 now on Ancestry

Thanks to the Anglo-Connections blog for the following tip off. Ancestry has uploaded 10,000 names for Gretna marriages from 1794-1895, indexed as part of its World Archives Project, and sourced from “The Lang Collection of Gretna Green Marriages Records” held at the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies in Canterbury.

From the site:

This data collection contains what has become known as the Lang Collection of Gretna Green Marriage Registers, being named after David and Simon Lang, a father and son duo who were “priests” and performed many marriages in Gretna Green between 1794 and 1828.

The entire collection covers the years 1794 to 1895, with a few earlier references. Since Gretna Green marriages were not exactly formal, the record keeping was not regulated, nor was it centralized. The Lang Registers make up approximately 50% of all Gretna Green marriages performed during the specified time period. The Lang Registers is the largest single collection of Gretna Green marriage registers and includes over 10,000 records.

Sometimes marriages were recorded on scraps of pieces of paper. Other times they were kept more formally and recorded in a book. The amount of information recorded could vary as well. However, you’ll generally be able to find the following information:

•Names of bride and groom
•Their counties of residence
•Marriage date
•Witnesses’ names

The database contains many instances of English couples who wished to marry in Scotland to avoid the consequences of the 1753 Hardwicke's Act, designed to outlaw clandestine marriages, but which did not apply north of the border. It should be noted that the database represents about half of all Gretna marriages. Indexes for the World Archives Project are free to consult, but a subscription is required to view the original digitised documents.

An alternative index source for some Gretna marriages can also be consulted at Registers of marriages at the Queens Head Inn at Gretna from June 1843 to February 1862 can be further consulted on microfilm at the ScotlandsPeople Center (MR 103/1-5), at the NAS, or in bound photocopied volumes at Gretna Registration Office, Central Avenue, Gretna (tel: 01461 337648), and at the Ewart Library on Catherine Street, Dumfries (tel: 01387 253820). .

It is to be hoped that the Perthshire, Scotland, School Registers of Admission and Withdrawals, 1869-1901 and Perthshire, Scotland, Militia Survey, 1802 collections, also completed through the World Archives Project, will be made available soon (mainly because my lot come from Perth!)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Lanarkshire FHS forum

Lanarkshire Family History Society now has a discussion forum up and running, and open to the public, at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Discover my Past England goes on sale

Now we all know how wonderful Discover my Past Scotland is, so it seems a bit of a pity to leave our southern brethren out of the picture! The solution? Welcome to DMPS' new sister magazine, Discover my Past England...

Issue one of Discover my Past England is now available from, and as with DMPS, is just £2.50. As an online magazine you can read it at home or abroad, and either through the website's dedicated viewer or via a downloadable PDF version.

In the first issue John Hannavy explains how to date military portraits, Debra Chatfield gives an overview of the FindmyPast website, Rachel Bellerby discovers the National Fairground Archive, Ruth Symes goes in search of 800 years of Cambridge University students, and Emma Beaston looks at the city of York's heritage.

As with DMPS, there are similar regular features each month including a round up of news, bygone days, and local events, whilst yours truly again gets to contribute a monthly library review column, and a new Discover my Past column entitled 'Gene Genies', where each month I interview the movers and shakers of the current English genealogical scene - this month I start with Bob Blatchford, behind the annual National Family History Fair and the Family and Local History Handbook.

Forget the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh - if you are an Angle, a Saxon, a Jute, a Norman or just someone from Hastings, Plymouth or Newcastle, DMPE is well worth a peep!

(Actually, not sure I should be reviewing it here really...!)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Monday, 23 November 2009

TARA releases World War Two aerial photos online

From the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland:

Hidden secrets found as new aerial website launches

Aerial photographs of prisoners in the central courtyard of Colditz high security prison and POWs working on the infamous bridge over the River Kwai, along with images taken during the post D-Day battle for Normandy and the Suez Crisis of 1956, are now available to view for the first time.

The photographs were discovered as part of a painstaking process of cataloguing and digitising imagery from The Aerial Reconnaissance Archives (TARA) for the new National Collection of Aerial Photography website, which launches today. TARA is made up tens of millions of Allied and German aerial intelligence photographs dating from the Second World War onwards, but only a small percentage has so far been catalogued and digitised. Discovering exactly what the films contain is an ongoing task requiring in-depth detective work.

Manager of the National Collection of Aerial Photography, Allan Williams said: “We are uncovering new images every day, but to locate photographs with such powerful links to major events is incredibly exciting. Without doubt, we’ll continue to make amazing discoveries. The amount of reconnaissance photography taken during and since the Second World War is astonishing. It provides us quite literally with a new perspective on historical events – from the air.”

The launch of the new website is integral to the RCAHMS conservation plan for TARA, which includes further research and progressive digitisation for display online, as well as storing and preserving the original materials for public access.

The National Collection of Aerial Photography website is free to browse, although in-depth viewing requires a subscription, currently £15 for two years. It also offers search and image purchase services. A dedicated search room has also been set up at RCAHMS Edinburgh headquarters for people wishing to carry out their own research.

To view the collection, visit

* Incidentally, just to show how ludicrous the BBC is becoming these days with regards to its policy on advertising - the Corporation tonight broadcast a news feature several minutes long on the remarkable new aerial collection that had gone online. Not once, however, did it mention the RCAHMS, or TARA, or even provide a URL for the site. In other words, we will tell you about this remarkable new facility, we just won't tell you where to find it. Completely ludicrous.

But forget about the BBC's failings - go visit the site!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Ancestors 89 on sale

The December 09 issue of Ancestors (issue 89) is also now available, with lots to get your genealogical teeth into...!

Alex Ritchie examines ancestors in business (with a lot of good Scottish content), Peter Day visits Lambeth Palace Library and Archives, Dave Annal looks at bigamy in the records, Philip Carter and Mark Curthoys delve into the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, John Sly looks at personal correspondence from the First World War hidden in TNA Kew, Richard Taylor explores Royal Naval training ships, Phil Tomaselli discovers British graves at Punta Arenas, Margaret Powling explores the history of the glove industry, and Martin Limon examines the problems affecting the arrival of the railway in east Yorkshire - (takes a deep breath before imminent collapse!) - then David Seymour describes the work of the Western Front Association, Fiona Fitzsimons visits the Representative Church Body Library in Dublin, and there's all the usual regulars, including internet news developments from yours so very truly.

There's even a handy wee Unusual Websites Guide free with the magazine.

Honestly, who needs Santa...?! £3.99 at all festive newsagents...

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Discover my Past Scotland 14 on sale

Yo ho ho, the December issue of Discover my Past Scotland has gone on sale (issue 14), with plenty to keep all Scots happy in the festive season. The good news is that Santa is not in it to distract you, and there is plenty to get on with!

John Hannavy looks at how our ancestors spent their leisure time, yours truly explores the Electric Scotland website, Michelle Higgs looks at ways to research Scottish police, Wendy Glass casts a retrospective eye over the year's Homecoming events and examines the Inverness based Am Baile website, Katie Howard looks for family history resources in St. Andrews, and Sue Wilkes takes a look at Queen Victoria's love affair with the Highlands. Yours truly also brings you the latest news and reviews, Ken Nisbet answers your Q and As, and all the usual regulars are present also.

Scottish throughout, though not in a Brigadoon sort of way....! £2.50 at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Homecoming St Andrews competition - but only for Andrews

Homecoming Scotland has been a fantasic year of events to draw back the diaspora to Scotland, so it seems remarkably naff that the event's final celebrations should have a competition that is not only just a tad cringeworthy, but which discriminates against most of the Scottish population!

Here goes:

Throughout 2009 Scotland has celebrated its year of Homecoming with a programme of more than 400 events taking place across the country. The finale to this spectacular year will take place over the weekend of St. Andrew's Day (Scotland's national day) with Scotland’s biggest ever St Andrew's do!

We are inviting Andrews around the world to mark the occasion and do something special for St Andrew's Day by joining the Homecoming Finale celebrations. As a special incentive we'd also like to bring one lucky Andrew/Andrea (and friend) 'home' to Scotland in January 2010 for a fabulous 5-night break that will include:

•A five night break to Scotland for two, including return flights
•Accommodation in Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh
•Two evening meals during your stay
•Unique Homecoming Scotland experiences which will include:

- a visit to St Andrews
- a VIP visit to a whisky distillery
- guest attendance at a Burns Supper and
- tickets to Celtic Connections traditional music festival!


Still, they got most of the rest of the year spot on!

Chris (not Andrew)
Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Your family history - a present for Christmas?

If you are struggling to come up with an idea for a Christmas present, whether for a loved one, for a friend, or just a treat for yourself, why not commission a family history report from Scotland's Greatest Story?

Full details on the service are available at Typically I work on an hourly rate of £18 per hour (plus travel and access expenses), and initial research usually entails a trip to the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh, where in a single day seven and half hours research can be carried out.

How the research is directed is entirely up to you. I can research a single direct line going back (e.g. the surname line), or can work back through all generations one at a time - two parents, four grandparents etc. If looking for details of ancestors alone, I can go back a surprising number of generations in a day in most cases, usally to the late 18th century at least, depending on how good the records are. If looking for a more fleshed out tree, with details on what became of your ancestors' siblings, progress will be slower, but the story much more complete.

Robert the Bruce and William Wallace were great Scottish heroes. James VI had a great history and ancestral story. But they all pale into insignificance, kilts, tartans and all - for the greatest story you will ever come across is that which led you to be the person you are today. Scotland's Greatest Story is your story - it would be a pity to leave it locked away in the archives, never to be told!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Campaign for change in death certification in England and Wales

Sue Willis has started a petition for a change in the law concerning the issuing of death certificates, following the inaccurate recording of her late husband's cause of death in 2008.

Doctors are presently required to list their ‘best guess’ for a cause of death on a death certificate. Although a certificate can be reissued following a post mortem, where the cause may have been more correctly identified, the original cause is still retained in the document, with an amendment scribbled below at the bottom of the certificate. Often this is hard to notice and Sue believes the original cause of death may still be mistaken for the truth. In Sue’s own case, her husband John was wrongly certified as having died from a bowel and heart condition prior to a post mortem taking place a week later, when the cause of death was in fact later established to be Large B Cell Lymphoma.

Sue believes that the practice of ‘best guessing’ skews the national statistics concerning causes of death and misleads families when it may come to understanding hereditary illnesses - "How many families are left with certificates which retain distressing untruths with the true cause as an insignificant footnote?" As such, she has now launched a campaign to have the practice changed, and has so far attracted support from the English Shadow Justice Minister Henry Bellingham MP, Alan Slater (CEO of the National Association of Funeral Directors), and celebrities Zoe Ball and Norman Cook.

To sign the Downing Street petition, visit

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Salvation Army International Heritage Centre - 3 month closure

From the London based Salvation Army International Heritage Centre:

In 2011 The Salvation Army International Heritage Centre will be moving to new accommodation.

This will include a larger reading room for researchers to use our library and archive collection, and a museum where we will exhibit our object collection and tell the story of The Salvation Army.

As we work with our designers to collate and research our collections, write exhibition text and plan for this exciting development, staff time is under pressure.

We regret that we will therefore be closing our collections to remote research enquiries (by phone, post or email) and to visitors from December 1st 2009- 26 February 2010.

If you feel you have a research question that cannot wait, please email us at our usual address with 'Urgent' in the subject line.

This applies particularly to post-adoption enquiries and all enquiries from social workers and Adoption Support Agencies.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

BBC iPlayer available on Wii

If you have a Nintendo Wii games console, you can use it to watch all your favourite family history television and radio programmes on your television via a new dedicated and relaunched BBC iPlayer channel.

Until now, the BBC iPlayer has been available though the PC via a downloadable BBC browser, by downloading programmes to watch on Windows Media Player or via a download for portable devices. Whilst the service was launched on the Wii in April 2008, the original version caused all sorts of technical problems with the console, a similar problem experienced by Sky when it launched its SkyPlayer on XBox.

Thanks to a new and free Flash based version developed by the Beeb, the iPlayer has now been relaunched for the Wii as a dedicated channel, and so long as users have it connected to a broadband service, you can watch a variety of programmes from the BBC's radio and television channels. You simply obtain the service for free as a download from the online shop. The service is also available on Sony Playstation 3 and will soon be available for those with FreeSAT in the UK.

It's all great news, but since I installed it yesterday, my four year old has made me watch at least four episodes of Peppa Pig, and he's taken a real shine to the Gaelic version of Postman Pat (Padraig Post) from BBC Alba...!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Victoria Cross sells for £335,000 at auction

A Victoria Cross presented to Flight Lieutenant Bill Reid in 1944 by King George VI has reached £335,000 at auction. Reid previously resided at Crieff in Perthshire, where he died in 2001, though was born in Glasgow's Baillieston, and was awarded the medal for a bombing raid he participated in during 1943, during which he was severely wounded.

For more see

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Saturday, 21 November 2009

FindmyPast gets a makeover

The FindmyPast website ( has been given a mini overhaul. From the company's blog, a brief description of the changes:

•a new look and feel for the main pages of the site to make it easier to navigate and find what you want

•more photographs and graphics to give the website a personal touch

•a new getting started page with a step-by-step guide

•redesigned main screens, which will be clearer and easier for everyone to use

The site looks more modern, on the down side, the news update on the home page appears to have gone, so to keep up to date with FindmyPast developments, visit the company's blog at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Thursday, 19 November 2009

First World War records summary

Genealogist Sheena Tait, originally from Scotland, and now residing down south, has a very handy summary of online military history records worth consulting for the First World War on her blog at

Well worth a look.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Hostage situation at Buckingham Palace

The Queen's speech was given just a few hours ago, but how many of us knew that the Queen had a hostage waiting in Buckingham Palace?! I always thought the Government did not negotiate with kidnappers these days in a hostage situation...

Some traditions from the Queen's Speech, as detailed on the
DirectGov site:

State Opening timetable
On Wednesday, HM the Queen will leave Buckingham Palace in a carriage procession to deliver the Queen’s Speech to the Houses of Parliament at Westminster.

She travels from Buckingham Palace in a state coach to the Palace of Westminster, usually accompanied by her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. The imperial state crown travels in its own carriage, ahead of the Queen, escorted by members of the Royal Household.

On arrival at Parliament, the Queen puts on the crown and her parliamentary robe ready for the ceremony itself.

Representatives of the House of Commons are summoned by Black Rod - an official in the Palace of Westminster - who acts as the Queen's messenger.

By tradition, the door of the House of Commons is slammed in Black Rod's face, symbolising the independence of the Commons and its right to debate without the presence of the King or Queen's representative.

Black Rod then strikes the door three times with his staff and is finally let in. Black Rod bows to the Speaker before saying: "Mr Speaker, the Queen commands this honourable House to attend Her Majesty immediately in the House of Peers."

At around 11.30 am the Queen will read out the speech from the throne in the House of Lords. No monarch has set foot in the Commons since Charles I entered the Commons and tried to arrest five Members of Parliament in 1642. On that occasion the Speaker defied the King, refusing to tell him where the MPs were hiding.

About the Queen's Speech
The Queen's Speech is delivered by the Queen from the throne in the House of Lords, in the presence of members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Although she reads the speech, the speech is actually written by the government and approved by the Cabinet. It contains an outline of the government's policies and proposed new laws for the new parliamentary session. The Queen, after listing the main bills, states that "other measures will be laid before you", giving the government the opportunity to introduce other bills, not mentioned there. The Queen also lists any state visits that she intends making and any planned state visits of foreign heads of state to the UK.

The Queen reads the entire speech in the same tone, indicating her neutrality, implying neither approval nor disapproval of the policies she is announcing. The Queen makes constant reference to "my government" when reading the text.

Debate on the Queen's Speech
In the afternoon following the state opening, both Houses of Parliament debate a motion to send a 'humble address' to the Queen thanking her for the speech.

Over the next few days the government's legislative programme, as outlined in the Queen's Speech, is then debated by both Houses.

Traditions of the state opening
Several traditions surround the State Opening, and delivery of a speech by the monarch can be traced back to the 16th century. The current ceremony dates from the opening of the current Palace of Westminster in 1852.

Gunpowder plot
Before the Queen travels to Parliament from Buckingham Palace, certain traditional precautions are taken.

A detachment of the Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard searches the cellars of the Houses of Parliament. This dates back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when Guy Fawkes was arrested while preparing to blow up Parliament. Today, the Yeomen of the Guard continue this historic search, in addition to the security checks by police.

The hostage MP
Another tradition is the 'hostage' Member of Parliament. Before the Queen leaves Buckingham Palace, a member of the government is held there to guarantee the safe return of the monarch. The hostage is released upon the safe return of the Queen.

So - who's going to arrest the Queen then?!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Most Haunted - Inverary castle

The new series of Most Haunted has clearly fallen in love with the town of Inverary in Argyllshire. having been to Inverary Jail just a couple of weeks ago, last night they were back to spend a night at the castle. The programme was actually very funny, and showcased the castle's alleged spooky side very well. It will be repeated several times this week on Living TV, but I've also discovered the following, which was clearly recorded by presenter Yvette Fielding after the events depicted in the episode itself.

Whether you believe in wee ghosties or not, one thing the series does do well is to showcase the locations it visits. So if you want to be spooked by a few spooky Campbells, take a look at the the following YouTube trail, and then watch the episode on Living TV!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

National Library of Scotland news

From the National Library of Scotland:

Fans of BBC Scotland's A History of Scotland programme will not be disappointed with the chance to get close up to a chilling piece of Scottish history: the signed order for the Massacre of Glencoe. This is joined by the Jacobite manuscript the 'Lyon in Mourning' and Scotland's contract with God in the form of two National Covenants.

Literary highlights include the manuscripts of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Case of the Illustrious Client', Robert Burns's Jacobite poem 'The Battle of Sherra-Moor' and Sir Walter Scott's 'Waverley.'


On tour - The library visits Dundee Central Library from Wednesday 25 until Friday 27 November as part of tour of the regions. There will be a programme of free talks and workshops covering business resources, family history and maps, and a touring exhibition on travellers' impressions of Scotland.

Pantomime season - A Pantomime in Scotland exhibition will be at the following venues:

Motherwell Theatre Motherwell 23 November - 2 December
King's Theatre Glasgow 5 - 19 December
Macrobert Arts Centre Stirling 21 December - 14 January

The exhibition is free and covers all aspects of Scottish pantomime, past and present. There are two pay-to-view events:

Glasgow Film Theatre
6 December 5.30 - 7pm Tickets: £6.50/£5
8 December 12.45 -2.15pm Tickets: £3.50
Book online at or phone 0141 332 6535.

Watch some rarely seen footage of pantomimes in Glasgow in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s held by the Archive. Look out for Scottish panto favourites Jack Anthony, Dave Willis, George West, Harry Gordon and Will Fyffe and the occasional dancing elephant or acrobatic dog!

Scottish Screen - Finally, the NLS has also published 200 film clips on a new educational website called Scotland on Screen, available at The site hosts over 15 hours of film from the Scottish Screen Archive, most of which were made in Scotland between 1895 and the 1980s.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

PRONI two week closure for stocktaking

From the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI):

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has issued a final reminder that it will be closed to the public from Monday 23 November until Friday 11 December 2009 inclusive.

During this annual stocktaking period there will be no access for members of the public to the Balmoral Avenue site and documents will not be available for consultation. However, all of PRONI’s online records will be available and the office will continue to provide a correspondence and telephone enquiry service and will address FOI and urgent legal enquiries.

The closure takes place every year in order to update the storage inventory, to identify documents that are in need of repair, and to re-arrange and rationalise storage to provide space for new archives. This is to ensure that everything possible is done to preserve Northern Ireland’s archival heritage and to make it accessible to the public.

Records stored within PRONI are priceless and some contain vital historical information which, if lost or damaged, would be a massive blow to the general public, both in Northern Ireland and also worldwide.

PRONI holds literally millions of unique documents that are housed on 54km of shelving in environmentally controlled stores. The task of protecting and preserving the documents is a major one. A large archive may consist of thousands of documents that have to be cleaned, sorted, catalogued and indexed before they can be made available to the public.

This year, particular emphasis will be placed on preparing the records and collections for the move to PRONI's new accommodation in the Titanic Quarter, Belfast. The move will start in September 2010 with the new state-of-the-art record office scheduled to open to the public in May 2011.


In relation to next year’s move to new premises:

. The site of the new Public Record Office is in a prominent position close to the Odyssey Arena and adjacent to the Gateway building at the entrance to the Titanic Quarter. It is scheduled to open to the public in May 2011.

. To help alleviate any inconvenience to customers during the period of on-site closure next year the amount and range of material available on-line will be extended. Additional databases scheduled for completion in 2009/10 financial year include 1766 Religious Census Returns, 1775 Dissenters Petitions and the pre-1910 Coroners’ Inquests.

. To further facilitate customers, discussions are taking place with partner bodies about the possibility of providing an off-site self-service facility for limited microfilmed records during this period.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

North Ayrshire Libraries Digitisation Project

North Ayrshire Libraries are planning to build a legacy of accessible digitised resources by scanning images held in the photograph collection at the Vennel Local and Family History Centre (Irvine) and have them displayed via the Flickr website along with detailed information about the history portrayed in each image.

At the moment the website displays half a dozen photographs ranging from Kilwinning Road, Irvine, in about 1880, to an aerial photograph of about 1955. The library is asking groups and individuals to become involved through sharing images and adding them to the owner on the Flicr website and, were appropriate, a link would be generated either to the individual or group website.

More information on the project can be obtained from Jill McColl or Norma Cullen at the Vennel Local and Family History Centre on 01294 275059 or by e-mail at

(With thanks to Ian Kennedy at Troon @ Ayrshire FHS)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Thanks to Troon@Ayrshire FHS

A big thanks to Troon @ Ayrshire Family History Society ( for their hospitality last night, where I gave a talk on the uses of DNA within family history research.

I said I'd happily give a quick plug for some of their more recent publications, so here goes!


"Dundonald Churchyard - Revised" (incorporating notes from W. W. Clearie) colour illustrated A4 book £7

"Crosbie Kirk - Revised" (incorporating notes from W. W. Clearie) colour illustrated A4 book £7


"Airshire News 1788-1798 Vol 1" (extracts concerning Ayrshire, collected by W. W. Clearie from Glasgow newspapers of the period) A4 book £5.50

"Airshire News 1800-1810 Vol 2" (extracts concerning Ayrshire, collected by W. W. Clearie from Glasgow newspapers of the period) A4 book £5.50

Once again, a huge thanks to Ian and the rest of the society.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Family Tree Maker 2010 patch

It seems that no sooner has a new edition of Family Tree Maker been released than a patch must surely follow. A patch is being released today, according to the blog, to fix the following:

Improved Relationship Calculator. Direct-line relationships now take precedence over less direct lines.

Greater control over hinting. A new option lets you turn tree hints off, so you can get hints from records only. See the new check box in the Options dialog. Also, the program will stop hinting on trees owned by the logged in user, as well as not hinting records that have been downloaded with a tree from

Improved data and formatting in a number of reports.

Improved support for GEDCOM, PAF and Legacy import.

Many other small changes throughout the program to help it run more smoothly.

The patch will apparently be available from today at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Monday, 16 November 2009

Nazi loot can be returned from Scotland and England

The Holocaust (Stolen Art) Restitution Act has now become law, meaning that any items in national institutions in Scotland and England which are found to have been appropriated from Nazi loot can now be returned to its rightful owners.

For more on the story visit

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2010

Kate Humble and Tony Robinson are two of the celebrities giving talks at the next Who Do You Think You Are? Live event from February 26th - 28th 2010.

For more information, and to book tickets, see

For those who may be interested in having a stall at the event, they should contact Kate Marsh at or call 0207 471 1099.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Glencoe massacre order goes on display

The signed order authorising the Glencoe Massacre of 1692, in which 38 members of the MacDonald clan were killed, is to go on display this week at the National Library of Scotland, to mark the end of Homecoming.

Also on display will be a hand-written poem by Robert Burns (The Battle of Sherramuir), a Sherlock Holmes tale in the handwriting of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Forlani Map, thought to be the first printed map of Scotland on its own.

For more on the story visit

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

British and Australian Governments to apologise for Child Migrants Scheme

Gordon Brown, the present British Prime Minister, is to issue a formal apology in the new year to all the surviving children who were sent overseas from the United Kingdom to Canada and Australia under the Child Migrant Scheme, which ended forty years ago. Many poor children who ended up being sent overseas were brutally abused and sent to work as virtual slave labour on farms or incarcerated in institutions.

In a particularly shocking testimony, one migrant told a a British parliamentary committee, in the late 1990s, that he had been subjected to an ordeal at the hands of a group of priests in Tardun, Western Australia, who competed between themselves to see who could rape him 100 times first. Australia's Roman Catholic church issued an apology in 2001, and tomorrow (Monday), the Australian Prime Minister will also issue a statement to those so poorly treated in the country, and also to half a million 'Forgotten Australians' held in orphanages between 1930 and 1970.

Many of the British children deported through the scheme - including 1700 who went to Canada, New Zealand and Rhodesia, and 7000 to Australia, were told their parents in Britain were dead - when they weren't - whilst some parents in Britain did not know that their children had been sent overseas. It remains a national shame. In a report on the BBC news website, it is reported that "in a letter to the chairman of the health select committee this weekend, Mr Brown said "the time is now right" for the UK to apologise for the actions of previous governments". The time was never wrong.

There has been a tendency in recent years for the British Government to issue apologies left, right and centre for everything that could potentially involve compensation payments, from the Irish Famine to the mistreatment of the Gurkha veterans, who the Government was happy to let bleed for us, but not to let live with us. Society is increasingly becoming cheap and devalued, and more concerned with lawyers and compensation culture than in the difference between right and wrong. The current Government was not responsible for the shameful policy and subsequent abandonment of her own citizens through the migrant scheme, but as the current national Government it speaks for the nation, so let's hope this is not some shallow PR exercise, but meaningful, and accompanied with whatever support the survivors may need.

There is more on the children's ordeals in a BBC special report at Reaction from the Child Migrants Trust, established in 1987, is available here.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Saturday, 14 November 2009

GOONS open online store

From the Guild of One-Name Studies:

The Guild of One-Name Studies has today opened its on-line store. The Guild bookstall sells a wide range of genealogical and one-name study books, genealogical software and various well illustrated books about places (typically UK towns) and their history. These items are currently only available to members of the Guild or can be purchased from the Guild’s bookstall.

However from today there is now an online facility for ordering vouchers via PayPal, credit card, or (by post) by cheque. Eventually the range of items available on-line will increase but at present only vouchers can be purchased on-line.

Voucher sales

FindMyPast and Ancestry are the foremost online providers of genealogical data, and both issue pre-payment vouchers for their websites. Vouchers are a great way to get started, and just the thing if you want to dip into the records now and then - and there are millions and millions of records to choose from!

The Guild’s on-line form will allow you to order the vouchers you want, and to pay for them in whatever way suits you best. If you have a credit card, you can order online using the secure PayPal processing (even if you do not have a PayPal account). Alternatively, once you have filled in the form you can print it out and send it to the Guild of One-Name Studies with your cheque, by post. The vouchers available to purchase are:

•Ancestry Voucher: 10 Record Views
•Findmypast / 1911Census Voucher: 40 credits
•Findmypast "Explorer" 3-month subscription
•Findmypast "Explorer" 12-month subscription

Cliff Kemball, the Guild’s Treasurer, said today, “The Guild is delighted to be able to sell Findmypast and Ancestry vouchers on-line to members of the public worldwide. Over the coming months, the Guild fully intends to extend the range of items it can sell on-line.”

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Medieval Scottish pooh - a worthwhile read!

I never thought I would write a post on medieval Scottish pooh, but here goes...!

In the Scottish burghs in times of old, what did people do with their toilet waste?! Conventional belief is that they literally chucked it out of the top window of their houses onto the street, and that our ancestral towns smelt fairly gruseome as a consequence.

In fact, whilst there is some truth to that, it was actually something that burgh authorities were really concerned with, and it was also something that the clever householder could make a bit of money from, selling it to neighbouring farmers to help grow their crops. Don't dwell too much on that though - how our ancestors fed themselves may be just a case of a little bit too much information....!

However, it is a fascinating subject and a brilliant article on the dealings of medieval household waste can be read in the current issue of History Scotland. The article is called Pursuing Improvmenet: Public Hygiene in Scottish Burghs, 1500-1700 and is written by Leona Skelton, who is currently studying a PhD on Attitudes towards Public Hygiene in Scottish Burghs and Northern English Towns, 1560-1700, at Durham University.

Also in the magazine are articles on the use of heraldry and literature for chivalric recognition and the second part of an article on how to research lesbian and gay history in Scotland. A good issue this month.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Robert Louis Stevenson website

A new website on the story of Robert Louis Stevenson is available at From the site's home page:

The RLS Website is the most comprehensive site dedicated to Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), providing resources for academics, school children, and people interested in learning about RLS. This site is particularly significant because it holds images not seen by the general public before.

The site celebrates Stevenson's life and works, encouraging users to discover the many faces of RLS. He is not just a children's author, but also a poet, a playwright, a Gothicist, an essayist, a historian, an anthropologist, a Victorian, a Modernist and a Postmodernist, amongst other things. By detailing his diverse writing career, the RLS Website aims to bring Stevenson out of the margins of literary study.

Have fun!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

National Library of Ireland Sources database

From the National Library of Ireland, a new Sources database:

Sources: A National Library of Ireland database for Irish research, contains over 180,000 catalogue records for Irish manuscripts, and for articles in Irish periodicals.

You can search across:

All of the National Library's manuscripts catalogued up to the 1980s
Irish manuscripts held in other libraries and archives in Ireland and worldwide, listed between the 1940s and the 1970s
Articles, reviews and other content that appeared in over 150 Irish periodicals (download a full list of the journals) up to 1969

Article records give details of the author, the title, and the citation, as well as information about how to access the periodicals in the National Library of Ireland or elsewhere. Manuscript records provide key details about the manuscript including the title, in addition to where it is held and its manuscript number. All records have subject headings, which can themselves be used as searches.

Record contents generally represent the decisions taken during the original cataloguing and indexing project, and reflect the holdings of libraries and archives as they were when that work was carried out. Read more about the history of Sources.

Copies of any periodical articles that the National Library of Ireland holds can be ordered through our Reprographics department, using the citation details (including page numbers) and the call number given in the records. Copies of the Library's manuscript material need to be requested through our Manuscripts department. Full details on ordering material, including pricing, are available on the Copying Services section of the National Library's main website.

When the record indicates the manuscript in question is held in another library or archive, all copying or other requests should go directly to that organisation.

The database is available at, whilst a family history guide is also available from the NLI at

(With thanks to the
Genealogy in Time newsletter).

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Friday, 13 November 2009

Canada Gazette now online

Library and Archives Canada has placed the Canada Gazette online at its site at Details on the release can be found at John Reid's Anglo-Celtic Connections blog post at

The Canada Gazette is basically the Canadian equivalent of the Edinburgh Gazette, and its British equivalents, the Belfast Gazette and the London Gazette. These papers are the official newspaper of record, and are an often overlooked resource by many researching their family history. They can be accessed for free at, and contain information and announcements as diverse as notices concerning unclaimed premium bonds wins, military medal awards, civil honours, business announcements and sequestrations, and probate notices.

Incidentally, the Gazette for the Australian territory of Victoria is also accessible online at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Historic Scotland must become 'helpful'

Culture Minister Mike Russell has said that Historic Scotland needs to buck its ideas up a bit when dealing with the public through the planning process - "Regulation has to become problem-solving. Its task must be to realise full value of historic assets rather than getting involved in the business that allows them to be seen as an obstacle to progress." The quote comes in relation to an application by the owner of Castle Tioram, Lex Brown, to have it restored to living accomodation, a request which was obstructed by Historic Scotland.

For more on the story visit

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Field Marshal Haig - case for the defence

An article in today's Scotsman looks at the story of the Edinburgh born Sir Douglas Haig, commander of British forces in WW1. It provides an insight into the man from a granddaughter who never met him, Xenia Dennen, as well as prominent figures such as Clive Fairweather, formerly of the SAS, and military historian John Keegan.

The story is available at
Haig... the Final Reckoning

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

CWGC annual report

The Commwealth War Grave Commission's annual report has been released today and can be consulted at The major news of the year has been the Fromelles War Cemetery, the first to be built by the commission in 50 years. The report is available via five PDF files which can be viewed online or downloaded.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

More on Jackie Stewart, Famous Scot

Thanks to Pete Wadley at the NAS for the following:

Famous Scots exhibition – Sir Jackie Stewart
9 November - 31 December 2009

Sir Jackie Stewart’s ancestry: from horse tax to horsepower

From Monday 9 November a new exhibition uncovers the ancestry of Sir Jackie Stewart OBE, triple Formula One champion in and Scottish sporting legend. Sir Jackie is the final celebrity to be featured in the six-part ‘Famous Scots’ exhibition held in the ScotlandsPeople Centre, Edinburgh, to mark Homecoming Scotland 2009.

George MacKenzie, Keeper of the Records at the National Archives of Scotland said: “We’re delighted and honoured that Sir Jackie Stewart has agreed to be featured as the sixth and final Famous Scot. This free exhibition gives people an insight into the family story of one of our most celebrated Scots, as well as into our shared past. I encourage as many people as possible to see the exhibition in the impressive setting of the ScotlandsPeople Centre. Those who cannot join us here in Edinburgh can of course investigate their own geneaology through the website. The final show marks a fitting end to our contribution to the year of Homecoming.”

Marie Christie, Project Director Homecoming Scotland 2009, said: “Homecoming Scotland is delighted to be working in partnership with the ScotlandsPeople Centre to stage the ‘Famous Scots’ exhibition in 2009. Ancestry has been a key theme for Homecoming Scotland and visitors to the exhibition can see not only Sir Jackie Stewart’s family history but learn how to undertake their own genealogical research.”

Sir Jackie may have been born in the house next to his father’s garage near Dumbarton, but his family roots are literally in the soil of Scotland, as he is descended from many generations of farmers on both sides of his family. As far back as the 1780s he only has one direct ancestor who was not involved in farming or working on the land: his own father, who began as a technical draughtsman at Lord Weir’s works at Cathcart, and in 1928 started his garage business.

Experts at the ScotlandsPeople Centre have delved into the lives of Sir Jackie’s farming ancestors, and their rise from labourers and ploughmen to tenant farmers and small landowners. On his father’s side they can be traced to Ayrshire at about the time Robert Burns farmed at Mossgiel, in Mauchline parish. In 1797 one Gilbert Clark, also a tenant farmer, whose farm was in the nearby parish of Sorn, was taxed two shillings for his farm horse. He was probably the Gilbert Clark who was Sir Jackie’s great great great grandfather.

Among rarely-seen original documents on show are old parish registers, a census return, an estate rental, and a book from an Inland Revenue survey of Scotland begun after 1910. Vintage films from the Scottish Screen Archive depict village life, farming and Dunbartonshire industries just before and after the Second World War.

Another Ayrshire ancestor (Sir Jackie’s great great grandfather), was a ploughman named Alexander Stewart. He died a pauper, but his son eventually became a small farmer, and his grandson, James Stewart, was a gamekeeper who moved to Renfrewshire. As head gamekeeper on Lord Weir’s Eaglesham estate in Renfrewshire, James helped his young grandson Jackie develop the skills which turned him into a clay pigeon-shooting champion while still a teenager.

James married Maggie Stewart Young, the daughter of a farmer at Castlehill, near Eaglesham, Renfrewshire. The Stewarts of Ayrshire, the Youngs of Eaglesham, and the Clarks of Mearns, also in Renfrewshire, make up the main branches of Jackie Stewart's family tree. James Young (born 1786) had two sons who were each to become a great grandfather of Sir Jackie’s, one on each side of his family.

With so many Clark forebears on both sides of the family, a mystery still remains unsolved. Was Sir Jackie related to another son of a Lowland farming family, his friend, the late great racing champion Jim Clark?

The exhibition is being staged in New Register House, part of the new ScotlandsPeople Centre, Edinburgh, surrounded by over half a million registers recording the lives of Scots going back more than 400 years. Monday-Friday, 9.00 - 4.30 – some evening openings (see website).

For people not able to visit the Centre, the key genealogical resources of ScotlandsPeople are available online at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

1939 NHS 'census' to be made available in England and Wales

Heads up on some exciting breaking news!

Guy Etchells, the man who was responsible for obtaining the ruling from the Information Commissioner on the release of the English and Welsh 1911 census early, has been a busy man, and has now secured a ruling in his favour concerning the release of the 1939 'census', a record of the public made prior to the war as part of attempts to bring in a National Identity Card.

The enumeration was made on Friday 29th September, and is genealogically significant in England and Wales for two reasons - a) there was no 1941 census taken because of the war, and b) the English and Welsh census from 1931 was destroyed in a fire (unlike that for Scotland, which has survived). For more information concerning the 1939 enumeration, see A typical entry will note name, age sex, occupation, marital condition, residence, and whether involved with the armed or civil defence forces.

Guy has now contacted me to let me know that the Information Commissioner has ruled that access must now be granted by the NHS to the information for details in the census relating to people who were enumerated and who are now deceased. As it was not technically a census as such, it is not covered by the same rules covering the decennial censuses. Access will therefore be provided via a simple Freedom of Information request, which should cost in the region of about £10.

The ruling covers England and Wales only, but I had heard murmurings some time ago that the Scottish equivalent was being digitised, but have heard nothing for a very long time on this.

More news as it is officially released - and once again, a major round of applause for Guy Etchells, who once again looks like being this year's genealogical equivalent of 'man of the match'...!

UPDATE 12 NOV 09: The NHSIC has confirmed that it will be looking at the ruling to see whether it might appeal. If it intends to do so, it has 28 days to submit it.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Dornoch seminar on slavery

The next Centre for History Occasional Seminar, at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Dornoch, will take place on Wednesday 18th November, at 5.00pm. The speaker is Dr Karly Kehoe (North Highland College UHI) who will be talking on The Journal of Richard C. McClement, MD, RN: Irish Perceptions of the West African Slave Trade in the 1850s and 1860s. The location is the Dornoch Room, First Floor, Ross House, Dornoch.

For more information contact 01847 889624.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Foundling children in Glasgow

An interesting post from Kirsty Wilkinson at the Professional Descendant blog will be of interest to those with ancestors who were foundling children baptised in Glasgow's Town Hospital in the early 1800s. The list was discovered by Kirsty at the end of the OPR records for Glasgow in microfilm 644/1/20. Whilst they are available on ScotlandsPeople, they are also free to view on Kirsty's blog post!

To view the list, containing baptisms from December 1805 to May 1813, visit the following link: Foundling Children in Glasgow

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Monday, 9 November 2009

British Library WW1 POW audio recordings

From the British Library, news of a new collection of 821 POW audio recordings held in Berlin, inlcuding some Scottish material:

The British Library has acquired an archive of 821 digital audio recordings from shellac discs (original gramophones) held at the Berliner Lautarchiv at the Humboldt University in Berlin, including the oldest known collection of English dialect sound recordings in existence.

Two hundred of the recordings feature a variety of indigenous languages of British colonial troops held in captivity on German soil between 1916 and 1918. They include speeches, recitals of songs and folk tales and renditions of the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the speaker's native dialect. The diverse range of English dialects - over 140 recordings of soldiers from across the UK, including Aberdeen, Macclesfield, Bletchington and Wolverhampton - and languages, including Hindi, Punjabi, Pashto and Bengali, demonstrate the breadth of those who fought for Great Britain.

The recordings range in length from less than a minute to just over 4 minutes. Although the sound recordings do not provide much detail about what life was like in POW camps or during the war, the accompanying paperwork reveals some of the soldiers' life stories, detailing their age, regiment and aspects of their civilian life – information which enables researchers to trace descendants and find out more about their wartime service.

The original recordings were made between 1916 and 1938 by Wilhelm Doegen, a linguist who studied at Oxford in the early 1900s. During WWI, he was given the opportunity to record the dialects and phonetics of British POWs held on German soil, working with linguists and anthropologists based at German universities.

Doegen pioneered the use of sound recordings in language teaching materials. As a result, most of the POW recordings have phonetic transcriptions which are fascinating as they are very early attempts to codify language in this way before the International Phonetic Alphabet was standardised.

Jonathan Robinson, Social Science Curator at the British Library, said:

“Recorded in extraordinary circumstances in German prisoner of war camps, these recordings represent some of the very earliest attempts to capture the sounds of English and other languages using audio technology. The accompanying documentation gives us a glimpse into pioneering attempts to transcribe speech sounds at a time when linguists were close to establishing the International Phonetic Alphabet.”

The collection also features r ecordings made for the Prussian State Library Sound Department including 260 Irish Gaelic recordings made after the war in regions located in what are now Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and a handful in the Arapaho and Siouan languages recorded in Berlin.

Other recordings include political speeches, writers reading from their work and English language teaching materials, and even feature a number of well known figures. One of these, Daniel Jones, was Professor of Phonetics at UCL and sat, along with George Bernard Shaw, on the Leith Committee that was influential in establishing Received Pronunciation as the voice of the fledgling BBC in 1922. He was a key figure in the development of what we now often refer to as BBC English and is also thought to be the inspiration for the character of Henry Higgins in Shaw's Pygmalion.

For more information about the British Library's Sound Archive, please visit:

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Sunday, 8 November 2009

The loss of the Iolaire

I recently reviewed a fascinating book for Discover my Past Scotland magazine entitled When I Heard the Bell: the Loss of the Iolaire, by John MacLeod (Birlinn £16.99), which recounted the greatest naval tragedy in peace time Britain, the wrecking of the Iolaire (Gaelic for 'eagle') as she carried hundreds of Royal Naval Reservists back to the island of Lewis just a month after the end of the First World War, in December 1918. The ship was literally approaching Stornoway harbour, half a mile out, when the tragedy happened, with the loss of over 200 lives.

Today the Comann Eachdraidh Uig website has uploaded an eyewitness account from one of the survivors, John Maclennan, translated from Gaelic by Maggie Smith. To read the account, visit

Professional genealogical problem solving
and research

Final Famous Scot - Sir Jackie Stewart

The final candidate in the Famous Scots exhibition at the ScotlandsPeople Centre is Sir Jackie Stewart OBE. The exhibition on the former Formula One racing driver, whose ancestors come from Ayrshire and Renfrewshire, lasts from November 9th until December 31st.

For more information, see

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Your Family Tree 84 on sale next week

The festive issue 84 of Your Family Tree is out next week and it's a 'bah humbug' free zone! Here's a quick preview...

Andrew Chapman looks at 100 useful genealogical websites, Paul Reed looks at tracing military graves and heroes, Audrey Linkman provides another expert analysis on an old photo, Jim Holder-Vale explores his connection to Sweet Fanny Adams and Neil Darby explores a Victorian Christmas. There are also features on how to use your local archives, how to make a family history Christmas card, how to look after old family photographs, and a feature on how to research relatives in Greater London.

Yours truly has a few articles in this month, including a feature on the real story behind Scottish clans and tartans (tourist industry - beware!), the story of how my wife's grandfather helped to establish a communist inspired soviet at an Irish creamery in the midst of the Irish Civil War, and a feature on how to find and use online British and Irish maps.

£4.99 at all festive newsagents from November 12th.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Friday, 6 November 2009

Footballers in War

There's an interesting new addition to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website concerning the role of footballers during times of war. It's a short 9 minute film sponsored by the Daily Mirror. It includes the story of sixteen Heart of Midlothian players who signed up in 1914, with seven losing their lives in WW1.

Glory Days - Football in Times of War from War Graves Commission on Vimeo.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

RAF Museum - virtual exhibition

The RAF Museum has launched an online virtual exhibition entitled Lest We Forget.

From the site:

In this online exhibition, Lest We Forget, we examine the sacrifices made during human conflict; inviting online visitors to reflect on the loss of the individual and the impact that their departure has on their families and loved ones.

At the same time we also explore the invaluable work of the agencies and support networks that have emerged since the First World War to bring practical aid and comfort to those RAF families who have suffered bereavement and examine, through podcasts, the importance of Remembrance and celebrate the life of Henry Allingham - much beloved, and missed, by his many friends within the Museum.

As part of this exhibition the families of departed RAF Service Personnel are invited to commemorate their loved ones by placing a short message together with a favourite photograph in our electronic Book of Remembrance.

The exhibition is available at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research