If you need some family history help go to an archive!

 

Worcester Archive at The Hive I want to take a moment this week to sing the praises of the knowledgeable people who work in county record offices and archives up and down the country.

I had a knotty problem to deal with this week with a family that I am researching. My task was to look for the maiden name of a second wife who married into the family in 1814 at St Thomas’, Dudley in Worcestershire and who was also marrying for the second time.

Because she was a widow her surname, in the marriage register for the second marriage, is assumed to be that of her first husband and so I have been asked to see if I can find out her maiden name. On her second marriage a fair number of her sons were given a distinctive second name and it had occurred to us that this may have been the woman’s maiden name.

I had a few hours in the City of Worcester set aside for this task and so I headed off to find the county record office.

What I discovered was that Worcestershire has housed its archives in the same modern building as its library at The Hive, which is a  joint university and public library. The Hive is the result of the vision of the University of Worcester and Worcestershire County Council.

On the first floor I found the reception for the archive and was immediately impressed by the helpfulness I was afforded. A member of staff showed me around the facility and when I explained what I was there to do was able to point me to the shelf containing collections of Worcestershire marriages transcripts.

I spent a productive hour or so noting down all the marriages of men with the woman’s first married surname, Fletcher, to a woman with the Christian name of Sarah.

Unfortunately there was no Sarah with the maiden name that I was looking for.

After a period of time the member of the archive staff returned to see how I was getting along. I explained that I had not found the answer and she then showed me another volume on the shelves that listed Worcestershire marriages by the bride’s surname. The suggestion here was that I may possibly be looking for the surname of the woman’s mother and not hers.

I then spent some time copying down all the women who had married in the relevant period and then compared the surnames of the men married with my first list. There was one surname that matched the other checklist I had of Sarahs who married a Fletcher; but sadly I can find no children called Sarah to the couple identified.

 

 

It looks like it is set for a long haul to look at all the marriages of a Sarah and someone called Fletcher and see if I can find the premature death of the husband called Fletcher. Once I identify the marriage that ended in Sarah being widowed before 1814 I will then have me a candidate for a possible maiden name. With this some more research will be required to make sure that we have found the right one.

As for the second name that this Sarah gave to her male children in the second marriage, perhaps it was from the father’s side and so this opens up the need for yet more research to be done!

Though I didn’t make a breakthrough this time, all the same the archive staff were most helpful in acting as a sounding board for my ideas to tackle this project and for their knowledge of the resources available in their collections that may help me.

 

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Unique Lawyer and Electrical Engineer War Records now available to view on TheGenealogist

Its always a pleasure, for those of us researching our family tree, when a new set of records are released and today I’ve heard from TheGenealogist about a couple of new data sets that they have added to their ever growing website.

The theme is how the professional occupations played their part in the Great War – Unique Lawyer and Electrical Engineer War Records now available to view on TheGenealogist.

I will let them explain the details…

Professional records

As part of its continuing commitment to add specific and unique research material to its collections, TheGenealogist has now added two unique record sets relating to professional organisations and their members during World War One. These two long established professions significantly played their part in the Great War. As their members contained some of the most skilled and talented professionals in their field, many became officers and casualty rates were high.

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple is one of the four London based Inns of Court for the law profession and has been a separate legal society since 1388. Offering accommodation to practitioners of the law and their students with facilities for education and dining, the organisation proudly produced commemorative records of their members between 1914 to 1918. The information includes their regiment, rank and if they were injured, killed or missing in action. The Inner Temple list includes the record of future prime minister, Clement Atlee who was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1906. He served as a Lieutenant in the South Lancashire Regiment and was the penultimate man to be evacuated from Gallipoli. He was later seriously wounded in Mesopotamia before serving in France. His war service helped shape him into a distinguished prime minister who presided over a radical, reforming government.

The Institute of Electrical Engineers (The IEE) was founded in 1871 and became the professional organisation for all electrical engineers. Pioneering developments in electrical engineering, its’ members were at the forefront of technical advancements in the early 1900’s and included many talented engineers.

The IEE war records are a tribute to members who died in the War. A number of promising engineers lost their lives and the records give an in-depth biography into the background, education, engineering career and war service, including details on how they sadly died. Many of the records come with a picture of the member commemorated as in the case of this ‘student’ member featured below.

 

TheG ProfWWISecond Corporal Charles Burrage, who had been awarded the 1st Class Diploma for best 3rd year student in Electrical Engineering at Battersea Polytechnic, he gave up his job to join the Royal Engineers and was posted to France in 1915. During the Battle of Loos he won the Military Medal for bravery in maintaining telegraphic communication between the front and headquarters. He was killed shortly after in an attack on German positions.

Many educated professionals were chosen for their intelligence and leadership skills to become junior officers. Casualty rates were high as these young officers were often at the forefront of the attack.

Available to view in the ‘Roll of Honour’ section of the Military Records on TheGenealogist, the records are taken from the ‘The Roll of Honour of The Institution of Electrical Engineers’ publication and a ‘Roll of Enlistment’ publication produced by The Honourable Society of The Inner Temple.

Mark Bayley, Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist comments: “Using our ancestor’s occupations can lead us to find more information about events that happened in their lives. Here we’ve used their membership of professional organisations to find out more about their war service and heroism in the First World War along with autobiographical information. It’s a great source that can really boost our knowledge of an ancestor.”

 

 

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7,000 new naval war records from The Battle of Jutland online

7,000 new naval war records from The Battle of Jutland now available to view in the ‘Roll of Honour’ collection on TheGenealogist!

I was looking at a family tree this week that recorded a family who had lost a number of their children in the late 1890s and then again a son in the First World War. To have him survive through to adulthood and then to lose him to enemy action must have seemed cruel fate to his parents.

Although some of my ancestors served in the Royal Navy I am not aware of any that took part in the Battle of Jutland, but for any of you that know your ancestors participated in the largest naval battle of the First World War, then this new data set is a must.

This week I’ve been told by my friends at TheGenealogist.co.uk that they have made available 7,000 new naval war records from that battle.

Here is what the team at TheGenealogist said about this new release…

 

Did your ancestor participate in the largest naval battle of The First World War? Now available to Gold and Diamond subscribers to TheGenealogist is a full record set of the Royal Navy servicemen killed or wounded in the Battle of Jutland. TheGenealogist is the only family history site to provide a complete specialist section devoted to these battle records.

After a number of smaller naval engagements in the first two years of World War One, the Battle of Jutland was the first major naval battle involving the large dreadnought battleships on both sides. Involving 250 ships and around 100,000 men it was the major naval military battle of the First World War.

After breaking German code, the British knew of the German plan to try to destroy the British fleet in two engagements and so left port to use the element of surprise and catch the German fleet off the coast of Denmark. What was hoped to be a decisive British victory turned into a confused and bloody battle with many British casualties.

The Royal Navy lost 14 ships and suffered nearly 7,000 casualties. The Germans lost 11 ships and 2,551 men. Confused leadership and poor quality ammunition hindered the Royal Navy in the battle and the losses shook morale in Britain at the time.

The new Battle of Jutland records provide a full list of the men killed or wounded in the battle with their rank, name of ship and date of death taken from official Admiralty sources. Records of the men lost range from Rear Admiral Robert Arbuthnot, commander of the 1st Cruiser Squadron who went down with his flagship HMS Defence, to 16 year old Jack Rutland who although mortally wounded stayed at his post on board the damaged HMS Chester.

Although the losses were heavy, the Royal Navy was still a major fighting force and the German fleet never put to sea again in such large numbers to challenge British sea superiority.

Available to view in the ‘Roll of Honour’ section of the Military Records on TheGenealogist, the records are taken from the Battle of Jutland ‘New Perspective’ publication which studied the battle in detail.

Mark Bayley, Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist comments: “As we near one hundred years since the start of the First World War, TheGenealogist has added further unique records to its already extensive military collections.”

 

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‘National Union of Teachers’ War Records from 1914 to 1919

 

I was passing by a village war memorial this week, still resplendent with its poppy wreaths from the  remembrance day service. I took to wondering about who these named individuals, carved in stone, were and what their lives had been before they went off to fight and die for their country.

So it is sort of apt that I just got this in from TheGenealogist. It deals with the National Union of Teacher’ War Records, giving some insight into one set of professionals who answered the call to go to war.

 

The Diamond subscription on TheGenealogist now has over 18,000 new records to access from the ‘National Union of Teachers’ War Records from 1914 to 1919. These records include a list of teachers who joined the forces, those who received honours, and also those who were sadly killed, plus other information relating to the National Union of Teachers during the war.

J Harrison V.C. M.C.

Covering all N.U.T. members who served in the war and also discussing issues of the time, such as pensions, salary levels of teachers who joined the army and fund raising for relief in Europe.

 

The records are a comprehensive list of members of the National Union of Teachers who served in the Great War. The teaching profession and its members responded to the great nationwide pressure to ‘do their bit’, with most male teachers of service age answering the call to arms.

The ‘National Union of Teachers’ had a number of courageous medal recipients amongst its members. Listed here is 2nd Lieutenant Jack Harrison of the East Yorkshire Regiment. He was killed in May 1917 in Oppy Wood, France aged 27. After having earlier won the Military Cross for bravery, he was posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross for single-handedly attacking a German machine gun post to protect his platoon. His body was never found.

He taught at Lime Street Council School in Hull and also played rugby league for Hull FC as a prolific try scorer. He is listed among the ‘Gallant War Dead’ in the records along with the name of his school.

Hull War Dead

 

The records provide an interesting insight into how a specific profession and its union coped with the events of The Great War. Taken from the National Union of Teachers War Records 1914 to 1919 publication, the records can be found in the War Service Lists in the Military Records section on TheGenealogist.

Mark Bayley, Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist comments: “The war affected so many lives, but it can often be hard to trace records for those who survived. This is why TheGenealogist is committed to providing more unique records of those who survived, whether they are casualty lists, prisoners of war, or in this case full service lists for specific professions. We are aiming to continually add more of these specialist records to provide family historians with more unique data at their fingertips.”

Take a look at TheGenealogist.co.uk to search these records.

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Free military records at Ancestry UK!

 

Just got this through from Ancestry

 

In honour of Remembrance Day, Ancestry is opening up millions of military records to give everyone the chance to journey back in time and discover the war heroes in their family.

Between 08 and 12 November 2013, 3.6 million records will be freely available from four important military collections:

  • WWI Service Records (1914 – 1920)
  • WWII Army Roll of Honour (1939 – 1945)
  • Navy Medal and Roll Awards (1793 – 1972)
  • Victoria Cross Medals (1857 – 2007)

Almost every family in the country will have relatives who once served their country, so these records are an excellent source of discovery.

Travel back through 100 years of military history to find physical descriptions, next of kin, medals awarded, places served, disciplinary procedures, photos, dates and places of death ? and much more.

New WWII collection

Ancestry has added new Civilian War Dead records from WWII, which hold the names of 60,000 civilians who perished during the Second World War. People died in their homes, offices, factories, schools and public vehicles during the terrifying bombings and air raids.
London was hardest hit so the London Boroughs have lengthy casualty lists, but the collection also covers many other cities, including Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham and York.

Take a look here: Ancestry.co.uk

 

 

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Records of 60,000 British civilians killed during WWII digitised

Ahead of Remembrance Day, Ancestry.co.uk, has today launched online the UK, WWII Civilian Deaths, 1939-1945 collection, listing the thousands of British citizens killed on the ‘Home Front’ during the Second World War.

 

The records, originally compiled by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, list almost 60,000 members of the British Commonwealth and Empire who were killed as a result of enemy action whilst going about their everyday lives or while at their posts as members of the Civil Defence Services.

 

The majority of the names listed were civilians killed in the aerial bombings by the German Luftwaffe (air force) as it attempted to bring Britain to its knees. These attacks on British cities, which took place from September 1940 to May 1941 are known collectively as The Blitz and led to around 40,000 deaths.

 

Nearly half of those killed in The Blitz (17,500) were Londoners, but several other cities were also badly hit, with Liverpool next worst off in terms of civilian deaths (2,677) followed by Birmingham, Bristol, Hull, Plymouth, Coventry, Portsmouth, Belfast and Glasgow.

 

Among the 59,418 names listed in the records is James Isbister, considered the first civilian casualty of WWII on home soil. He was killed in March 1940, when German bombers attacking Scapa Flow Naval Base, Orkney, jettisoned their remaining bombs over civilian territory as they fled back to Germany.

 

Hundreds of British civilians lost their lives before this point, most commonly in sea disasters when civilian ships hit military mines during the early months of the war. As the war progressed deaths at sea became all the more common, with thousands lost, as Germany used submarines to sink merchant ships in an attempt to restrict supplies to Britain.

 

More than 2,300 Civil Defence Service members also gave their lives whilst on duty, including air raid wardens, home guard, and members of the Women’s Voluntary Services.

 

One of the most notable names in the collection is actor and star of Gone With The Wind, Leslie Howard. He was killed in 1943 when the civilian airliner he was travelling in to Bristol was shot down. Historians have since suggested that the Luftwaffe may have attacked the non-military plane because German Intelligence believed Prime Minister Winston Churchill to be on board.

 

Before the war it was feared a sustained campaign of aerial bombings would lead to more than 600,000 deaths and as a result the 1937 Air Raid Precautions Act forced local councils to make provisions for defence. These varied from a widespread imposed blackout of all lighting from public and commercial buildings to the construction of bomb shelters and provision of gas masks.

 

The government also implemented widespread evacuation of major cities, with Operation Pied Piper responsible for the relocation of more than 3.5 million people – mainly urban children moved to safer homes in rural areas.

Several other famous names of the day can also be found within the digital records, including:

 

  • Albert Dolphin – Dolphin was working as an emergency hospital porter at what is today New Cross Hospital London when a bomb hit the kitchens of the building. A true Home Front hero, Albert rushed to the aid of a nurse trapped in wreckage and protected her as a damaged wall gave way. He was killed saving her life and was posthumously awarded the George Cross for his bravery.

 

  • James Baldwin-Webb MP – Baldwin-Webb, MP for The Wrekin in Shropshire and one of the most famous civilians of the day, was lost at sea. In September 1940, whilst travelling to Canada to fundraise for the Ambulance Corps, his liner SS City of Benares was torpedoed by a German submarine. He stayed aboard the ship to assist women and children onto lifeboats before going down with the ship.

 

  • Arthur Bacon – Bacon was a popular footballer, playing as a striker at Reading, Chesterfield and Coventry City – scoring 71 goals between 1923 and 1935. After his footballing career he served as a Special Constable in Derby where he was killed in 1942 (aged 37) during an air raid.

 

Miriam Silverman, UK Content Manager, from Ancestry.co.uk comments: “As we approach Remembrance Sunday, it’s important to not only remember those heroes who served and died in conflict but the thousands of ordinary people who lost their lives in Britain and the Commonwealth whilst battling to keep the country running at a very difficult time.

 

“This collection gives people the chance to find out about any Home Front heroes that might be in their family tree, and adds to the millions of military records available on Ancestry.co.uk from the past 100 years and more.”

 

Ancestry.co.uk is providing free access to 3.6 million military records between 8th and 12th November, including WWI Service Records 1914 – 1920, WWII Army Roll of Honour 1939 – 1945, Navy Medal and Roll Awards 1793 – 1972 and Victoria Cross Medals 1857 – 2007. To search for the war heroes in your family tree, visit www.ancestry.co.uk/start_military
 

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More than 13 million records launched today on findmypast.com

Some news that dropped into my inbox today…

DC Thomson Family History and FamilySearch.org to make billions of records available for people to search

More than 13 million records launched today on findmypast.com

LONDON, England and SALT LAKE CITY, Utah–Annelies van den Belt, the new CEO of DC Thomson Family History, the British-based leader in online family history and owner of findmypast and Genes Reunited, has announced a major new partnership with US-based FamilySearch.org that will give family history enthusiasts access to billions of records online and new technology to collaboratively research their family roots.

DC Thomson Family History, formerly known as brightsolid online publishing, is collaborating with FamilySearch, which has the largest collections of genealogical and historical records in the world, to deliver a wide range of projects including digital preservation, records search, technological development and the means to allow family historians to share their discoveries.

More than 13 million records from FamilySearch.org launched today on findmypast, including major collections of births, marriages and deaths covering America, Australia, and Ireland. Around 600 additional collections, containing millions of records, will follow.

The two organisations have a long history of working together on historical projects, including indexing 132 million records of the 1940 US census and two hundred years of British Army Service Records (Chelsea Pensioners) in a joint digitisation project with The National Archives.

Van den Belt said: “This is fantastic news for our customers all over the world. As a leader in online family history we will be able to offer access to a much wider variety of records dating back hundreds of years and the first batch are ready to search on findmypast. The convenience of searching many treasures from FamilySearch.org along with our own extensive collections will provide rich new insights for our customers.

“This partnership with FamilySearch will accelerate the momentum of our next phase of global growth into new non-English-speaking markets and give more people more access to more records to uncover their family history. This really cements our position as a market leader. ”

“We are excited to work with DC Thomson Family History on a vision we both share,” said Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch. “Expanding online access to historical records through this type of collaboration can help millions more people discover and share their family’s history.”

DC Thomson Family History is the British-based leader in online family history, which operates major online sites including findmypast, Genes Reunited and the British Newspaper Archive. It launched in America last year with its findmypast brand.

DC Thomson Family History has a strong record of partnerships with non-profit and public sector organisations such as the British Library and The National Archives among many other major archives and organisations around the world.

 

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Millions of School Records to go online

 

I got back from doing some family research in London today to find in my inbox an interesting press release from findmypast .co.uk.

It tells us that The Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) – ARA – has signed a deal, on behalf of a large number of archives and schools, with digital publishing experts brightsolid to publish online for the first time millions of school records from England and Wales.

 

It seems that this will be the first project to be undertaken under the framework of the new National Digitisation Consortium, which comprises up to 120 English and Welsh archives and schools working together to offer records for digitisation.

It is the first time such a large number of bodies will work together to digitise material – in this case their pre-1914 school registers. Once the registers have been scanned and transcribed by brightsolid, they will be made available to search online at leading family history website findmypast.co.uk, which is owned by brightsolid.

 

The registers span the period 1870-1914 and cover every region of England and Wales. They contain details of particular interest to the family historian, including name of the school and the pupil, their date of birth, year of admission to the school and the name of a parent or guardian. Teachers are also listed and Industrial School registers are included in the collection.

Chris van der Kuyl, Chief Executive of brightsolid said: “We are proud to have agreed terms with the ARA to publish online this fascinating set of school records from over 120 separate archives across England and Wales.

“Projects of this magnitude reinforce not only our ambition, but our credentials as the leading digital publishing experts, especially within the genealogy market. We look forward to working closely with the ARA and the National Digitisation Consortium on this exciting endeavour.”

 

John Chambers, ARA Chief Executive, said: “As the leading membership body for those who work in UK and Irish archives, the ARA has an important role to play in helping the sector find new ways of working. The National Digitisation Consortium allows a number of archives and schools, of all sizes, to offer records for digitisation within a single, shared legal agreement. As well as enabling these fascinating school records to be available to the public, this project will set an important precedent for the way the sector can work together to achieve a better return.”

I for one am looking forward to seeing them!


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