8 million newspaper pages online at The British Newspaper Archive

 

British Newspaper ArchiveI noticed this week that The British Newspaper Archive has expanded the number of pages that we family historians can view on their site. I do like old newspapers as a family history resource!

It seems that you can now explore 8 million newspaper pages at The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) after the website reached a major milestone this week.

While adding editions of the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Cheshire Observer and The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, the counter on the homepage ticked over to display 8,000,000 pages.

 

The amount online has doubled since the website launched with 4 million pages in November 2011. The time period covered now stretches from 1710 – 1954 too, much broader than at launch.

If you tried searching for a person, event or place before without success, its well worth trying again now. Visit www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk to try a search for free.

Thousands of pages are added every week, so your chance of finding something amazing increases all the time. 825,000 new pages have already been added so far this year.

 

You can see a list of the newspaper titles that have been added or updated in the last 30 days at
www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/home/LatestAdditions.


Disclosure: Links are compensated affiliate links.

 

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Don’t Rely Only On The Internet.

Devon County Record Office
Devon County Record Office

Don’t rely on the Internet only, I was once advised, go and look in the County Record Office for the actual records, you may find something else interesting there that you won’t be able to see online.

Since that day I have become a fan of our various archives and I believe that we need to support them by visiting when possible.

Usually a Record Office will also preserve a great deal of other archival material such as the records from independent local organizations, churches and schools. There may be papers donated by prominent people from the community, leading families, estates, companies, lawyers and more.

Some County Record Offices are also the Diocesan Record Office for the area and hold the ecclesiastical historic records as well. In some of the larger cities the local government may run its own City Record Office on the same principles as a County Record Office.

Archives may have been acquired by the record office either through donation from the original owner, or the documents may be deposited for safe keeping on long-term loan.

All of which may, or may not, be useful to you in finding out the story of your ancestors. But if you don’t go and look you will never know!

From the family historian’s point of view, the record office is a goldmine of original research documents which are valued as primary sources in the tracing of our ancestors.

The staff can offer direct access to documents or microfilmed copies in their public search rooms and provide a secure and supervised comfortable environment for research on these treasured documents.

So don’t just rely on the Internet, good as it is, but get out there and plan a visit to a record office or other archive this spring!

 

Family History Researcher Academy
CLICK IMAGE above for FamilyHistoryResearcher.com

I am putting together an email course that teaches beginners about English and Welsh Family history. The tutorials are downloaded from a link that I send members weekly and one of the lessons will be on the subject of archives and repositories that I have written about above.

If you are starting out in tracing your English and Welsh ancestors and are finding that your forebears are hiding from you, behind those brick walls that we all encounter, then why not join me to learn how to get around those problems in Family Tree research?

Read all about my new site at www.FamilyHistoryResearcher.com

Nick

 

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Find Any Villains Or Victims Lurking In Your Family History

I got a Press Release today from Find My Past that I find really interesting.

Its about a new set of criminal records they are publishing on their site and I wanted to share this with you as soon as possible!

findmypast search

2.5 MILLION CRIMINAL RECORDS TO BE PUBLISHED ONLINE FOR FIRST TIME

FIND ANY VILLAINS OR VICTIMS LURKING IN YOUR FAMILY HISTORY

The biggest collection of historical criminal records from England and Wales is being published online for the first time by leading family history site www.findmypast.co.uk in association with The National Archives.

Over 2.5 million records dating from 1770-1934 will be easily searchable and provide a wide variety of colour, detail and fascinating social history, chronicling the fate of criminals ranging from fraudsters, counterfeiters, thieves and murderers and their victims.

They contain mugshots, court documents, appeal letters, examples of early Edwardian ‘ASBOs’- where habitual drunks were banned from pubs and entertainment venues –and registers from the prison ‘hulk’ ships, which were used when mainland prisons were overcrowded. One such hulk, the ‘Dolphin’, housed 6,000 prisoners between 1829 and 1835.

There are details of Victorian serial killers including Amelia Dyer, who, between 1880 and 1896, is believed to have murdered 400 babies by strangling them with ribbon and dumping them in the Thames. She was hanged at Newgate Prison in 1896 aged 57.

Another particularly gruesome murderer who appears in the Crime, Prisons and Punishment records is Catherine Webster, who killed widow Julia Martha Thomas, 55. She pushed her down the stairs, then strangled her, chopped up her body and boiled it. Julia’s head was found in David Attenborough’s garden in 2010.

Debra Chatfield, a family historian at findmypast.co.uk , said: “We have been eagerly anticipating the launch of these records that provide an amazing opportunity to trace any villains and victims in your own family.

“We have painstakingly published online entire registers containing mugshots of habitual drunks that feature incredible descriptions of criminals’ appearances, demeanour and identifying marks.

“The newspaper articles that are available on findmypast.co.uk provide unparalleled detail and show how the crimes were reported when they were committed. This supplements the new criminal records and makes searching through as enjoyable as it is easy, whether you are researching your own family history or are interested in social history.”

Paul Carter, Principle Modern Domestic records specialist at The National Archives added: “These records span several government series and show the evolution of the criminal justice system in the nineteenth century as the country dealt with the impact of industrialisation, urbanisation and population growth.

“They record the intimate details of hundreds of thousands of people, beginning with judges’ recommendations for or against pardons, to petitions through which criminals and their families could offer mitigating circumstances and grounds for mercy, and later, licences containing everything from previous convictions to the state of a prisoner’s health.

“As well as the Georgian highway robber, the Victorian murderer and the Edwardian thief, the courts often dealt with the rural poacher, the unemployed petty food thief or the early trade unionist or Chartist. The records are a fascinating source for family, local and social historians.”

 

The information in the records comes from a variety of Government departments including the Home Office, Prison Commission, Metropolitan Police, Central Criminal Court and the Admiralty. The records from 1817-1931 will be published first followed by the period 1770-1934 in the coming months.

The Crime, Prisons and Punishment records will also be available online at findmypast.ie, findmypast.com and findmypast.com.au as part of a World subscription.

Take a look now at this link:

Find My Past


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Ancestors not on the database?

A problem that you may have encountered is one where your ancestors do not appear in the online data bases that you are searching through. I have had this problem with several forebears and when this happens I usually decide to look for the missing person in various alternative offline records.

If you too are experiencing the pain, of not finding an ancestor, then have you thought of looking at the original records at a county record office, or at some other repository? True, you may have a long and uphill task, as you methodically work your way back through the images, year by year, but this is how I came across one of my “lost” ancestors recently.

For one reason or another the transcript, which the search engine facility on the subscription site used to throw up likely records for me to consider, had recorded my ancestor’s name incorrectly. Only by browsing a microfiche, in the archive, did I find the person that I had been previously searching for without any luck.

In another and quite unrelated search, I found a transcript of burials to be a godsend to me. It had been created by the Devon Family History Society and I had found that they offered both printed booklets, and downloadable pdf versions, of parish burials for the area that I was interested in.

As I was too impatient to wait for the physical booklet to arrive in the post I opted for the download of the pdf from their website. Now this gave me an advantage. In addition to being instantly able to see my purchase, I was also able to use the really useful search facility that is built into a pdf document reader. By selecting from the tool bar: “Edit” and then on the drop-down menu: “Find”, I could look for a specific word.

I chose to search for my ancestor’s surname and when I couldn’t find him listed, because his family name had been spelled in a strange way by the clerk or vicar  (see the previous post on that subject on this blog), I then tried his first name.

After searching and rejecting many men called “James”, who had been listed in the booklet, I finally hit upon one in this list that seemed to fit the bill. His age matched my ancestor and the surname was indeed a novel interpretation of  the last name that I was looking for. Thus, in my family history quest to fill out my family tree I have encountered both a time when a transcript has helped me find an ancestor and a time when a transcript has hindered!

 

For more great tips to get your family tree back before 1837 in England & Wales  buy my CD:

How To Get Back Before 1837 in England & Wales.

Help Me Get Back Before 1873 in My English Family Tree

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Help Me Understand the Census Images

1871 Census on Computer ScreenThe censuses can baffle people beginning family history, when they first encounter them. You go on to a commercial site and pay to download the image of your long lost ancestors and you are presented with an official form covered in sometimes difficult to read handwriting and what looks like lots of lines crossing out some of the data.

Lets start at the top!

The Header.

The Header contains the Location. That is broken down into sub sections, for example: the administrative county; the civil parish, etc. Boundaries were constantly changing and although it may appear that your ancestor has moved between the census, it could just have been a change in administrative division that had taken place. Also beware of house number changes or street name changes. I had one in my tree where 2 Densham Terrace, was 80 North Road and is now 199 North West Road, Plymouth!

Schedule Numbers.

The column on the far left of the document is the Schedule Number and NOT the house number! With the exception of the 1911 census, what we are looking at, when we download a census, is a page from the Enumerator’s book. The far left column, then, lists the number of the original schedule filled in by the head of the household. These schedules are not available any more with the exception of the 1911, which is why you can get to see the handwriting of the person that filled it in!

Names.

Beware that ancestors can vary their names across census! My Great Aunt Winnie appears as Eveline Winnifred and Winnifred Eveline on different census. A middle name may make an appearance after the death of a mother and if someone was know by a pet name, like one of my grandmothers, then this may be put down instead of her actual name. One more thing, north of the border it was usual for Scottish widows to revert to their maiden names.

Professions.

We all like to exaggerate a bit and so did our ancestors. A carpenter may become a Cabinet Maker or a merchant seaman a master mariner. Another thing to think about is where your ancestor had two or more jobs. Which went down on the schedule?

Place of Birth.

This could change depending on your ancestor actually knowing it. But also consider when a county changed its name or its boundaries moved, your ancestor’s place of birth has just changed.

If Deaf and Dumb; Blind, Lunatic, Imbecile or Feeble Minded.

Don’t fear the worst as this covers a variety of medical conditions with little option for degree of ailment. The options offered are a bit stark to the modern politically correct twenty-first century dweller.

Double strokes.

As you scroll down the page you will notice someone has inserted two parallel lines next to the names of some people. What does this mean? This indicates where the next household starts. So between the first // and the second all those names are considered to be part of the same household.

So, the downloadable census collections are a great tool for the family historian, providing us with fantastic insight into our departed family, but the information has the ability to confuse as well as to inform.

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The On-line Family History Researcher

Researching into our ancestry on the Internet is becoming one of the most popular pastimes in the 21st century with more people every day beginning family history research on-line. It wasn’t that very long ago that a person who wanted to trace their family tree, would need to make various visits to many libraries, record offices and the family history centres for the areas their forebears came from. Nowadays, except for the serious genealogist for whom this will still be an important part of family research, the amazing increase in genealogical websites with databases that we can search easily, has made it simple to carry out most of the slog researching our forbears from our computers. ranging from the average family historian, aiming to locate some difficult to find ancestor, to the professional genealogist carrying out a commission for a client, the data sets such as those provided at www ancestry.com or ancestry. co.uk and a whole lot of other websites have made things  easier and better for us. The sheer amount of data and other information that is already made available is being supplemented even as I write this with all sorts of new releases of old records and indexes. There are sites offering us access to the census collections, parish registers  and other church records, transcripts of tomb stones and other monumental plaques, BMD sites providing data on births, marriages and deaths, various family history societies, websites selling old maps, genealogical resources such as parish registers, old town or trade directories and so on.

In the United Kingdom the1841 census records data will be the earliest that will be encountered on-line. Today sets of census data are available to search on the web right up to the census of 1911. Census information can be found on a number of commercial sites, the majority of which necessitate an individual to pay-as-you-go, or simply to obtain a subscription of some kind. You will commonly have the ability to lookup transcripts and after that pay to view actual images, of enumerator’s books, for the different censuses undertaken every decade between 1841 and the 1901 census. Recently, the 1911 census for England and Wales went on line sooner than the normal one hundred years before release. This is under a Freedom of Information judgement, but the delicate data as to the mental state of  individuals have been blacked out. The different feature of this collection is that, for the very first time that, we can view an image from the household’s return, not merely the enumerator’s book and thus can see our ancestor’s handwriting.

The provision of the various kinds of family history information, on the Internet, has encouraged an ever-growing number of individuals to make a foray into the arena of genealogy on-line resources. Most want to discover who their own forefathers had been and the things they did. A good number of folks have been prompted to start looking for themselves after the popularity of the BBC’s tv series called: Who do you think your are?

They might be motivated because of the many books about the topic, the different magazines on the newsagent’s racks as well as the genealogy and family history events, such as the annual show in Olympia and a host of others organised up and down the land all year round. But although some research will be effortless, a good few of our forebears are frustratingly tough to find and so frequently a beginner doesn’t know exactly where to turn.

You may still find some people, out there, whom merely do not know how to even take the first steps to undertaking their family research on a computer. You can also find others who, having made a beginning, do not know how to get past the inescapable brick wall that they have stumbled upon.

Brick walls can be aggravating, however when you discover a way to smash through the logjam it usually is immensely satisfying. I’ve discovered exactly how to do this, for a few of my forefathers, by taking e-courses in this fascinating area of interest. Just what I have observed is that the family historian must be made aware of the various tips and tricks to utilizing the internet resources to greatest effect. While the simple information can be acquired by using the straight forward search field on a website, to locate evasive ancestors may require a certain application. The good news is that somebody has most likely come up against the very same sort of problem as you are having and so a means of working around the difficulty may already have been devised. For example, I had been taught exactly how to make use of the freeBMD website to locate missing brothers and sisters of one of my grandmothers.

Many researchers may have used the LDS or Latter-day Saint’s familysearch.org site. Finding your ancestors, when using the search tools furnished by the website, can be challenging; even if they are included in the International Genealogical Index, and that is not always the case! The problem is that a search simply by last name only isn’t allowed, unless you search within a single batch of records at a time or over the entire country. A search of the whole of Britain is overwhelming, unless of course you have a rare name. What if, however, you are looking for a Smith or a Jones? I have discovered how to use a tool provided on a website to search the IGI batches and it is really easy to try and do, once you know how.

The world wide web has made researching ancestors a great deal easier to do. As more and more data finds its way onto the internet many more lines of research are opened to us. But, on the other hand, there is the danger of information overload. The new family historian could become frozen in the headlights as the data juggernaut races on towards them. My advice is to carefully record your research at each and every phase, so you are aware the blind alleys which you have gone down and the various people that you have researched erroneously, as well as the ones you have had success with. In the long run you will save yourself time and very possibly money on certificates purchased, or pay-as-you-go searches on the Internet. Next word of advice, is that it’s well worth continuing to learn as much as you are able to about this fascinating subject by taking classes or reading around the subject matter. The best family historian is one that thinks of themselves being an advanced beginner. That is, they are constantly wide open to learning more skills. The more skilled you become, the better you’ll be able to uncover those elusive ancestors!

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