Wednesday, 4 May 2016

CBC Digital Archives

Now a CBC website has video and audio clips from as far back as the second decade of the 20th century.

It includes a timely video is on the 1961 census. Interestingly objections to intrusive questions make up a large part of the item, the first suggesting that income information could be obtained from tax returns which is what is being done in 2016.

For the UK there are various programmes, including many news items, archived by the BBC at

Mentioned before, now with 80,000 videos, is British Pathe on YouTube.

Census 2016 progress

According to a Globe and Mail article  between 1.5 million and two million census questionnaires had been completed by the end of day Tuesday. Considering the form does not have to be completed until 10 May that's an encouraging start.
Canadians appear to buy into the government message that the census is important, and that participating in it is a way for citizens to shape their community.
For me the process went smoothly. I found the letter with the 12 digit Secure Access Code in my super mailbox on Tuesday. While problems had been reported with the census site,, on Monday there were no such problems on Tuesday afternoon.  My return turned out to be the short form, so completing it took very little time.
I can now be assured my data will be there for posterity even if I kick the bucket before the 10th!

Jane's Walk Ottawa

Today, 4 May 2016, would be Jane Jacobs 100th birthday. Google is marking the event with this image.

This Saturday & Sunday, 7 & 8  May is the annual Jane's Walk event in Ottawa, an opportunity to find out more about our city.  The walks are given by volunteers and are free to attend.

The schedule this year is:

Saturday, 7 May

9:00 AM St. Anthony's Church and Little Italy
9:30 AM An Unauthorized History of Parliament Hill: From Indigenous Land to Headquarters of Canada's Elite
10:00 AM Stittsville Main Street: Looking towards the future
10:00 AM Montreal Road Treasures
10:00 AM Turtles at Petrie Island
10:00 AM Memories of the Village of Billings Bridge
10:30 AM Indigenous Walks: A Look at Lansdowne Park
10:30 AM Woodroffe Woods
10:30 AM Discover DeschĂȘnes' Heritage
10:30 AM Edible and Medicinal Plants of Riverrain Park
10:30 AM 'Foodies' Walk in Centretown
11:00 AM The Byward Market: Inside Stories of Heritage Conservation
11:00 AM Central Experimental Farm
1:00 PM Bridging communities: A new foot/cycle crossing
1:00 PM Building Ottawa a more Equitable Transportation System
1:00 PM Ottawa' s Building and Monument Stones
1:00 PM Discover the Ottawa Tool Library & the Seed Library
1:00 PM Wild Food in the City: Urban Foraging
1:30 PM The Civic Hospital and the Central Experimental Farm
3:00 PM UOttawa Campus Sustainability Tour
3:00 PM Workers’ History Museum Labour History Walking Tour
3:30 PM The Poets' Pathway in the Sawmill Creek Constructed Wetlands

Sunday, 8 May

10:30 AM Pinhey Sand Dune Conservation Project
11:00 AM Inside the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre
11:00 AM Uptown Rideau: A Mainstreet Interrupted
1:00 PM A Place to Call Home: Sandy Hill's Housing Co-ops
1:00 PM Places of Significance to Homeless People
2:00 PM Ottawa’s Historic Financial District
2:00 PM Can City and Farm Co-Exist?
2:00 PM The Magnolias of the Dominion Arboretum
2:30 PM Workers’ History Museum Labour History Walking Tour
3:30 PM The Failures and Possibilities of Lansdowne Park

Details are at

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Coollattin Canadian Connection

There's news of a project to help the descendants of emigrants from the Coollattin Estate in Co. Wicklow learn about their family history and return to the land of their forefathers. Thousands of the Estate's tenants were assisted by their landlord, Earl Fitzwilliam, in emigrating to Canada between the mid-1830s and 1850s.

via Claire Santry, Irish Genealogy News at

Many settled in Eastern Ontario. See a post  including a list of settlers at

Living Knowledge: the value of national libraries

Caroline Brazier, Chief Librarian of the British Library, started her 2 May Library and Archives Canada Wallot-Sylvestre Seminar presentation “Living Knowledge: the value of national libraries” with a quote from Albert Einstein
"The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library"
The presentation more than lived up to the billing: "Ms. Brazier will explore the different ways in which we can look at the benefits which come from national libraries and the ways in which they are delivering their services and developing in a networked world."

A few notes:

The six core purposes of the British Library are first and foremost custodianship, and services for research, business, culture, learning, international.

A survey of visitors to the British Library at St Pancras showed the primary purpose of the visit was cultural (visiting exhibition, tour) for 32%, academic research  for 30%, personal escape (meeting friends, visiting cafe or gift shop) for 21%, individual research for 10% and work for 7%.

Economic surveys show the British Library returns about 4.5 times as much in national economic benefit as the government invests. (What would the equivalent benefit be for other government services and how much of that would find its way back to government?)

The British Library was recently voted as having the best coffee in London. No expectation of LAC receiving that accolade in Ottawa!

The British Library is a hub for The Alan Turing Institute and and a player in a network of knowledge organizations within a radius of one mile.

There are an estimated 750 million newspaper pages at the British Library Newspaper collection. (there are presently 14 million pages in the online British Newspaper Archive with a target of 30 million for the present digitization agreement. A long way to go yet!)

The British Library made a deliberate decision not to become involved in large scale digitization of its legacy book collection, although some treasures are available. That may change.

Librarian and Archivist of Canada Guy Berthiaume must surely have been envious of the potential that the British Library is able to capitalise on from its facility.

The seminar was streamed live to LAC facilities across the country. It's unfortunate there's a two or more month delay, if I understand correctly attributable to bilingualism requirements, in making the video of these presentations more generally available. For the time being see tweets with hashtag #RWSS

For an interview with Caroline Brazier and Guy Berthiaume on CBC Ottawa Morning go to National Archives and Head of British Library at

Epic Ireland

Curmudgeon John Grenham, at least he revels in that appearance, lets the facade fall away in his enthusiasm for a new visitor attraction in Dublin. He's excited about "the wonderful use of touch-screens, hi-definition projectors, motion-sensors ..."

What about genealogy?
"As part of EPIC Ireland’s visitor experience, The Irish Family History Centre (operated by Eneclann) will be introducing an exciting way for visitors to search for their Irish ancestors, discover their own unique family story and explore Irish heritage. Knowing who you are and where you come from is something we feel everyone should get excited about. We want you to unearth your Irish roots in the most memorable way you can."
Sounds like another reason for a first or return visit to Ireland.

Read the blog post and follow the link to Epic Ireland.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Beyond Google

When a blog post from 2013 is the first featured as "Popular content" on a UK academic website it must have something going for it. That's the case for Ten search engines for researchers that go beyond Google on the Jisc* website.

Some, like WolframAlpha, you've likely heard of before. Others are only available to the UK academic community. A new one to me, openly available and claiming access to more than 90 million documents, was BASE, described as

" one of the world's most voluminous search engines especially for academic open access web resources from over 2,000 sources.
Key features: Allows you to search intellectually selected resources and their bibliographic data, including those from the so-called ‘deep web’, which are ignored by commercial search engines."
I tried it and found documents of interest for my genealogy research that Google missed. Try locations in your family history as well as names.

*Jisc  is the former Joint Information Systems Committee, "a United Kingdom non-departmental public body whose role is to support post-16 and higher education, and research, by providing relevant and useful advice, digital resources and network and technology services, while researching and developing new technologies and ways of working."

May backup nag

Same old nag. If you forgot on May Day it's past time to make a backup of your hard drive.

If you don't backup to the cloud, and are thinking about it, the most popular services are: (Alexa rank 17,268), (Alexa rank 24,202), (Alexa rank 39,780) and (Alexa rank 55,325).  In reviews they vie for being top rated depending on how much emphasis is put on various capabilities and features.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Recognition for Lucille Campey

Lucille Campey, author of numerous books on British, and soon to be Irish, immigration to Canada has won the  British Association for Canadian Studies Prix du Quebec 2016 as an independent scholar.
The award was presented by the Government of Quebec on Friday, April 22nd at the BACS 2016 annual conference, held at the British Library in London, UK.
BIFHSGO will once again welcome Lucille as a speaker at its conference in September with the Ottawa launch of her latest book, the first of an Irish Immigrants trilogy, that challenges the view that the Irish immigrant saga was primarily driven by dire events in Ireland.

Genealogy Websites Benchmark Update for April

Here's a look at how your favourite genealogy sites did according to Alex ranking during March.
The biggest gainer, more than 10% and ranking above 100,000, was  On the downside, no sites with rank above 100,000 declined by 10% or more.
Positive trend in the table indicates an improvement in rank.

Site30-Apr31-MarTrend (%)

The top rankings of all websites saw Wikipedia advance above Amazon: -,,,,,,,,,

Saturday, 30 April 2016

British Newspaper Archives additions for April

The British Newspaper Archive now has 14,171,331 (13,629,517 last month) pages from 615 (606) titles online.
The full list of additions this month is:

Findmypast adds Dorset BMBs

Further transcripts of Dorset parish records abstracted by volunteers of the Dorset Family History Society have been added to Findmypast.

Over 68,000 new baptism records from 86 Dorset parish churches have been added bringing the total to more than 389,000 records from more than 250 parishes.

More than 42,000 new records from 47 Dorset parishes mean there are now a total of just under 648,000 marriage transcript records taken from the marriage registers of more than 384 churches, chapels and Quaker Meetings.

The Dorset Burials collections sees the addition of over 52,000 new records covering 57 burial sites bringing the total number of transcripts to more than 381,000 records from 342 burial grounds.

There's a list of Dorset links of genealogical interest at