Monday, July 14, 2014

Worldwide Indexing Day

FamilySearch will run its next ‘worldwide indexing day’ on Monday July 21. This has been held for the past few years and is intended to inspire many to start indexing, while also prompting existing indexers to do a little more (at least on that day). FamilySearch, on average adds about 500,000 images to their website a week, and through their current volunteer indexers they get about a million entries indexed in the same timeframe. A single scanned image might have one name on it, or it might have fifty names on it – it simply depends on the type of document, so you’ll see that there’s a whole lot of indexing that needs doing. Worldwide indexing day runs for 24 hours and starts on Sunday July 20, 6pm MDT time in the US, which for us here in Australia translates to Monday July 21, 10am (AEST).

If you are interested in indexing, you don’t have to wait to the last minute to get involved. You can get started right away. Go to and find a project that interests you and get involved. Do some practicing before the July 21, 2014 Indexing Event.

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First World War Graves

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has just launched two new websites to make it easier for families to find relatives killed in the first world war, including the release of 300,000 original documents. The documents include details of personal headstone inscriptions, date of death, rank, and regiment. Some will give details of the journey of the deceased to their final resting place. They can be seen on the CWCG website. The commission's new Discover 14-18 microsite is designed to enable the public to visit the memorial sites more easily. The site will also feature a timeline and calendar of events and major battles of the first world war. The commission is responsible for marking and caring for more than 1.7m war graves. It operates in over 23,000 locations in 153 countries across all continents except for Antarctica.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Irish Census Records

Thousands of Irish census documents, many dating back to the early 19th Century, have been made available to the public online for the first time. The vast majority of pre-1922 records were destroyed in the Irish Civil War by a fire at the Public Record Office, but some of the documents that survived the fire, and others held elsewhere, have now been collated and put online. They include partial census records from 1821 to 1851, a substantial amount from counties now in Northern Ireland. Surviving documents from the 1821 census include household returns from large parts of County Fermanagh. Many of the 1831 census records for County Londonderry have survived, and a substantial amount of 1851 census documents from County Antrim also remain intact. Most of them are not the original documents, but are contemporaneous copies of census forms archived in offices in what later became Northern Ireland. The surviving documents had previously been available to order from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) but they have now been published online, to access free of charge, by the National Archives of Ireland, which undertook the project in partnership with genealogical companies, FindMyPast and FamilySearch. In total, the newly available documentation relates to more than 600,000 individuals on the island of Ireland. Many of the records are from the years leading up to the Irish famine, which is reckoned to have killed nearly one-eighth of the entire population.
For people of Irish descent, tracing their family roots is notoriously difficult because of a series of documentation disasters. Full government censuses for the whole island of Ireland began in 1821 and continued at ten-year intervals until 1911. No census was taken in 1921, because of the Irish War of Independence. However, many of the records were completely destroyed prior to 1922, by order of the British government, on grounds of confidentiality. The original census returns for 1861 and 1871 were destroyed shortly after they were taken. Documents from the 1881 and 1891 censuses were pulped during the First World War. The majority of the returns for the four censuses carried out between 1821 and 1851 were destroyed by a major fire at the Public Record Office of Ireland. When the Irish Civil War began in June 1922, the government-owned building based at Dublin's Four Courts was among the first casualties. Almost all of the records it held, some dating back to medieval times, were destroyed in bomb explosions that set fire to the office on 30 June of that year.
As a result, the 1901 and 1911 Irish censuses are the only pre-partition censuses to survive in comprehensive form. Census records are normally kept confidential and only released 100 years after the original surveys were completed. However, because so many Irish census documents have been destroyed, the 100-year rule was suspended and the public were given early access to the 1901 and 1911 censuses. Further information and other related stories can be found at

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Biographical Database of Australia

             The Biographical Database of Australia  (BDA) is a new genealogical resource which is now up and running with over 500,000 records on line already. This new research tool for historians and genealogists comprises transcripts and indexes of many original records and published biographies of deceased individuals who arrived in or were born in Australia, starting from the earliest times. This first release contains convict, muster, census, baptism, marriage and burial manuscript records for most of the New South Wales population 1788-1828, for Norfolk Island and Tasmania 1802-1811, and many immigrant and convict records from 1829-1837 along with full text of short biographies of 11,000+ residents of most colonies/states published 1881-1907. You can search the indexes for Free to see if this database is of use to you. This is a not-for-profit project, but there is a small annual subscription of $25 for access to the records. That is cheaper than one certificate from BDM.
Records of life events are linked to create a Biographical Report. From one report, subscribers can hyperlink to another biography to spouses, parents, children, witnesses, employers, employees and so on, through the entire database. (SAMPLE) . Future stages of BDA will add data from all states and territories, expanding from early records towards the present, including Aboriginal people, convicts and immigrants of all nations.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Crowdsourcing Army for World War 1 archives

Operation War Diary is a cooperative effort by the British National Archives, the Imperial War Museum and crowdsourcing website Zooniverse aimed at making previously inaccessible data available to academics and amateur historians alike, creating a formidable “hive mind” concept to offer fresh perspectives on the First World War.
First World War unit diaries, digitised by the British National Archives, allow us to hear the voices of those that sacrificed their lives and are even more poignant now as there are no living veterans who can speak directly about the events of the war.
More than 10,000 people worldwide have volunteered to tag names, locations and other key details in the diaries since the site’s launch eight weeks ago and officials say their collective work — more than 260,000 named individuals and 332,000-plus locations — is equivalent to two years of archival work.
More than 200 diaries have already been verified using the data to digitally map and analyse patterns and trends in the four-year, unit-driven global conflict. Ranging from cover pages to maps to narrative reports, the diaries are catalogued by theatre of operations, unit and dates. Users can then select a diary “to work on” and provide missing pieces of the puzzle. Once completed, all of the data produced by Operation War Diary will be available for free. If you are interested in joining in, there is a ten minute tutorial to get started.
The story of the British Army on the Western Front during the First World War is waiting to be discovered in 1.5 million pages of unit war diaries. Operation War Diary needs your help to reveal the stories of those who fought in the global conflict that shaped the world we live in today.
Further information is available in an article by Joshua Rhett Miller  at

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Have you looked at Find-A-Record yet?
It’s a new website that allows you to search for genealogical records by a town, region, or geographic area, and it tells you what records exist in the place and time period that your ancestors lived. It looks at the records on FamilySearch, Ancestry, FindMyPast, WorldVitalRecords and other websites that have records that apply to that geographic area.
It has a simple homepage - look for the SEARCH button in the top left corner, this then takes you to another screen. Here you simply type in a place, narrow it down by year span, choose if you want to include only free records or paid record (or both), then tick which records you wish to look for (births, marriages, deaths, census, military, miscellaneous), and hit the SEARCH button.
Don’t expect to find everything, but you are more than likely to find some records for even small and remote towns or villages when looking for places in England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, & New Zealand. There is also a video of how to make the most of the site. However it does not take you to the exact record, but rather the record set you should be looking in. It helps to narrow down your search by place, providing relevant records for your ancestors.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Free Settler or Felon

I was recently alerted to the website Free Settler or Felon – have you seen it yet?
There are over 170,000 references to Convicts, Settlers, Townsfolk, Bushrangers, Innkeepers, Soldiers and Land Owners, Medical Practitioners and Magistrates. You can search by First Name, Last Name, Ship or all three. It also contains information about the voyages of approximately 350 convict ships and the Surgeon Superintendents who accompanied them. This information can be accessed via the Convict Ship Index and Surgeon Superintendent Index on the website.

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