Monday, July 27, 2015


Associated Press together with British Movietone are uploading 550,000 old movies to YouTube. These clips document the most momentous and historic events of the last 120 years. It is a fabulous resource for getting details of social history - the look, the era, the happenings of the time, the fashion and so on. British Movietone os arguably the world's greatest newsreel archive, spanning the period 1895 to 1986. Their newsreel archive contains many of the world's enduring images and is rich in coverage of news events, celebrities, sports, music, social history, science and lifestyle. Associated Press (AP) is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent news gathering covering global news and entertainment video stories also dating back to 1895. People who want to use the clips in their own videos will still need to license them through AP or British Movietone, but they are a wonderful resource to help us understand our ancestors.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

The Surname Society

Launched in November 2014, is a website dedicated to researching surnames. It has been set up by The Surname Society, which is a not-for-profit group founded by a team of genealogists from around the world. It focuses on single surname studies, with a vision to connect like-minded people by providing facilities which enable members to share knowledge, data and good practice with others. The society allows members to register both worldwide and is entirely online. Maybe it is just the group you have been looking for. Worth looking up. You can follow their news at , read study stories or join in the forum discussion.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Heaven Address

A new service offered by funeral directors at present is to list the deceased on the website Heaven Address. The website lists recent deaths and funeral services. Family members are then able to add memorials and obituaries. Some include photographs and you can search by name. Links to final resting places, i.e. cemeteries or memorial wall at crematoriums can also be created. HeavenAddress claims to be a respectful online memorial community to honour and celebrate the lives of our loved ones, keeping memoires alive by creating personalised pages for the deceased family member.


A Death in the Family

On the Thursday evening before Good Friday, we had a death in the family. It was my husband's mother, who passed away after a long illness at the age of 91. We then spent Easter organising her funeral, but it was some of the questions we were asked for information to be included on the death certificate that really stumped us. What was your mother's mother's maiden name? i.e. grandmother's maiden name. What was your mother's father's occupation? When did she come to Australia? 
My mother-in-law was born in England in 1923, served in the RAF at Mount Batten, Plymouth, where she met her future husband, an Australian stationed there, and came out to Australia to join her husband in 1946. The only member of her family that we had met was her younger sister, now 87 and living in England. We really didn't know much at all, and had neglected to ask the relevant questions when we could. We knew she had come to Australia in 1946, but not the actual date. We were told that if we just put 1946, the date would automatically adjust to 1/1/1946, and we thought that would be misleading for future generations.
Firstly we went through all paperwork we could find, and found not only my mother-in-law's birth certificate, but also her marriage certificate and a copy of her parent's marriage certificate. From these we found her mother's maiden name - Gillard. (So we could be related to Julia - she came from England as well). Her father was a grave digger, but we could find nothing about when she arrived in Australia. So we turned to and found her on Passenger Lists leaving UK 1890-1960, but to get the information we needed credits or a subscription. So off we went to our local library, where we could access the information for free, and found the name of the ship she came out on and that it left London on 31 October 1946. [A note about searching, when using her full name we got fewer results, but when we just searched using surname and an initial, we found the information we were after.] Once we had the name of the ship, we checked Trove for shipping arrivals and found she arrived in Sydney on 4th December 1946. So with some family history detective work we were able to provide all the information required and ensure it was the correct information for future family historians.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

1901 Irish Census

Following on from my last post – Findmypast has announced that it has added the 1901 Irish Census to their records. This is the earliest surviving complete Irish census. You are able to search all variations of a name and narrow your results by date of birth. You can also search for two members of the same household at the same time. Don't forget that you can access Findmypast free of charge at Manly Library and most public libraries.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Irish records at FindMyPast

There has been a real surge in the availability of Irish Family History Records. I have already listed many in previous posts. Findmypast has one of the largest collections of Irish family history records available online, containing Irish censuses, parish records, Irish newspapers and more. You can search at Findmypast - this is a subscription based database, but they frequently have free trials available, or you can access the website at Manly Library and other public libraries free of charge. Irish records on Findmypast include Ireland Censuses from 1821 to 1851 that survived the fire at the Four courts in 1922; Ireland Census Search Forms for 1841 & 1851, which were used to verify the ages of people applying for an old age pension in 1909 and contain extra information on Irish families; Griffith's Valuation 1847-1864, with details of who owned or rented land in Ireland; Landed Estates Court Rentals 1850-1885 lists those with bankrupt estates amongst over 500,000 tenants on more than 8,000 estates across Ireland; the Elliott collection contains parish registers from County Fermanagh and cemetery records fro Donegal, Fermanagh, Tyrone and Wicklow; Poverty Relief Fund records cover the micro credit scheme set up in 1824 to provide small loans to the 'industrious poor'. Local committees administered the scheme and kept copious records about people who received loans. Nearly 700,000 names are recorded in these files and they give a snapshot of life including age, occupation and fiscal history. occasionally more detail is given, including degree of destitution, family circumstances, emigration and death. These records also span the period of the Famine (1945-51). There is a range of National Irish Newspapers, including The Freeman's Journal, Ireland's longest running national publication which merged into The Irish Independent in 1924. The collection now stand at a total of over 7.2 million articles and 68 different titles from the 1740s onwards. The newspapers are easy to use as they have been digitised and indexed.
Happy searching!

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

British Newspaper Archive

The British Newspaper Archive ( has now been operating for over 3 years – have you had a look at it yet? It was launched on 29 November 2011 with 4 million historic newspaper pages and has grown to over 9 million fully searchable pages available from 300 British and Irish titles. The newspapers cover 1710 – 1954, a much broader time period than at launch. 
The British Newspaper Archive is a partnership between the British Library and Findmypast to digitise up to 40 million newspaper pages from the British Library's vast collection over the next 10 years.
You can search - 
News Articles - read about national events, as well as issues of local and regional importance. News articles are your window into daily life in historical Britain.
Family Notices - search your family's birth, marriage and death notices plus related announcements including engagements, anniversaries, birthdays and congratulations.
Letters - read letters to the editor written by the newspaper's readers, including illumination contemporary debates, aspirations and anxieties.
Obituaries - view a wealth of contemporary information on the lives of notable individuals and ancestors.
Advertisements - these include classifieds, shipping notices and appointments. There are illustrations - see photographs, engravings, graphics, maps and editorial cartoons. 

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