Twelve Months of Genealogy – November

November is a month of Remembrance in Canada and other places around the world. This is the time when we remember the veterans of all the wars and conflicts that have involved Canadians. The poppy is the symbol of remembrance. This month we will look at places to find information on your veteran ancestors.

In the first week of November we will look at records for Canada. The first stop should be the Genealogy and Family History section of the Library and Archives Canada website. Here you can find information on soldiers of the First and Second World War. The Soldiers of the First World War database has digital copies of attestation papers. You will find a link so you can order a copy of their military file online.

In two previous posts (post 1 and post 2) I have gone through the information to be found under the topic of military in the Library and Archives Canada Genealogy and Family History section. This section used to be called the Canadian Genealogy Centre.

In the second week of November we will examine the military records for England. Here the first stop is The National Archives of England and Documents Online. Documents Online have databases for Army, Navy and Air Force. The First World War Medal Index Cards are a great resource.

You can find the First World War Medal Index Cards on Ancestry as well as digital copies of the surviving military files. At Findmypast you will find Chelsea Pensioner records as well as many other military records.

In the third week of November we will look at military records for the United States. The first stop is usually Ancestry but you will also find information at World Vital Records which covers the conflicts from the Revolutionary War to World War II and at FamilySearch. The National Archives and Record Administration has a section on their website dedicated to Veteran’s Service Records.

The fourth week of November we will look at the military records from Australia. The ANZACS (Australian and New Zealand Army Corp) hold a very special place in the hearts of the people of Australia and New Zealand.

The Australian War Memorial has descriptions of all the conflicts Australians have been involved in from 1788 through to the present day. They have a wonderful site that you should visit and take time to go through all the different links and pages.

There is a general database you can search to find information on veterans from many different conflicts.

The National Archives of Australia hold the military personnel records. They have a page dedicated to the First World War and if you scroll down you can access a link to a search page. You can search their records to see if a reference can be found for your ancestor and you can usually access a digital copy of their military file.

You will find a link to Mapping our Anzacs which is a virtual scrapbook to remember those who fought for King and country in the First World War. There is a link here to access the military files and they encourage people to create scrapbook pages to remember their loved ones.

The last week of November we will look at some general places to find information. If you have a regiment name then the first place to start is a Google search. In England you may find a regimental museum which may be able to help you with more information.

Research the battles in which your ancestor fought and find out what the soldiers went through. I know that one of my collateral lines fought in the Battle of Waterloo and that his first child was born just behind the field of battle. Women were sometimes allowed to follow their men during campaigns. They would stay behind at the camp during battles. This usually happened if the soldier was an officer.

You may be able to find sketches or pictures of the uniform your ancestor might have worn. Did they wear a uniform or their regular clothes? This sometimes happened if they were in the militia.

The military file might be the first place to look for information but not the last. What about muster rolls, pension rolls, and other records where you might find someone who was in the military.

Do not forget things like military diaries. Library and Archives Canada have digital copies of the war diaries of the First World War online.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has a searchable database online. You can search for casualties of the First and Second World Wars from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, India and South Africa.

Is your ancestor remembered on a war memorial in their home town? You can search online and see what you can find. Scotland has The Scottish National War Memorial online. You can search the Scottish Roll of Honour for entries from the First and Second World Wars and post 1945.

This Remembrance Day why not write the story of your veteran ancestor so that their sacrifice and their accomplishments will not fade away.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

The Treasures to be Found in Historical Audio and Video Collections?

My online search for information regarding the 1924 Imperial Scout Jamboree for a previous post led me to search for other online sources that relate to audio and video resources. A few have been mentioned in other blogs.

They are a treasure trove of information and provide some wonderful entertainment at the same time. Here are collections found in Canada, Scotland, England, Ireland, United States, Australia and Europe.

Canada

Library and Archives Canada has Virtual Gramophone which contains historical Canadian sound recordings. There are biographies attached to some of the performers. You can listen to a full range of recordings in the podcast section.

There is a section on historical sheet music and songs relating to the First World War.

On the National Film Board of Canada website you can watch some of the productions that came out of this wonderful Canadian institution. There is a documentary entitled “Action: The October Crisis of 1970” which covers the events of the October Crisis.

One of my personal favourites is “Paddle to the Sea” that was produced in 1966 by Bill Mason.

They have channels for history, arts, kids’ movies, the Green channel, biography, hot topics, outside the box, world, aboriginal peoples, classics and HD.

I had a client who found a film where his mother was interviewed and he bought a DVD copy of the production.

Scotland

Scotland has the Scottish Screen Archive. Not all the titles have a clip or full length video. You can browse the collection by featured videos, all full length videos, place, subject, genre, series, biography or decade. You can view a full clip relating to making bagpipes dated from 1967.

Not everything in the collection is strictly Scottish. You can find a full length video from 1959 entitled “Australia Week” which is an advert for Australian foodstuffs. They do mix in the foodstuffs of Scotland in the advertisement.

England

British Pathe has a video archive of their newsreels online. You can search the Editorial Picks or check Categories to find clips. Under Entertainment and Humour you can find “A Chicago Blizzard” a 1938 newsreel of the city of Chicago after what they call a severe snow. This one has audio.

Under Historical Figures and Celebrities you find a clip called “Ireland-Through the Ages” which is a newsreel of a historical pageant that was presented in Dublin in 1927 at the conclusion of Civic week. Near the end the Carlow Sugar truck had the old fashion cone of sugar on the back. Wouldn’t it be nice to know who the ladies at the end of the newsreel were and what happened to them?

The English Folk Dance and Song Society provide no audio but do list many old songs and give a little history.

Ireland

The National Archive of Irish Composers website is difficult to see because of the black background but it does provide some history and other resources. You can access their digital library to view digital images of sheet music.

Thomas Hamley (Hamly) Butler (c1755-1823) wrote “Erin Go Bragh A favorite Irish Air” and you can view a digital image of the sheet music.

There was a performance of the “Musical Treasures from the National Library” on 26 November 2010 and you can view that and specific performances from the evening. You can read a short biography and watch a video of the composition being performed. The compositions range from the last few years of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century.

United States

National Jukebox is a website created by the Library of Congress in the United States. You can search their holdings by classical music, ethnic characterizations, popular music, religious and spoken word.

Sometimes the recordings are difficult to hear because of the static on the old recordings.

They have a disclaimer that states “WARNING: These historical recordings may contain offensive or inappropriate language.”

Under Ethnic characterizations is a recording of “The little Irish girl” performed by James McCool in 1906.

Under Popular music is the tune “Cat Duet” performed by Ada Jones and Billy Murray in 1908.

Australia

The Sounds of Australia is a database of “Australia’s audiovisual heritage online.”

The earliest recording is 1896 and is a novelty song called “The Hen Convention” that features chicken impersonations. You will find a link to the sheet music and a link to the audio.

You can find historical newsreels from various places in Australia including footage of the Australian Flying Corps training and at war in 1918 in France and the Middle East. If you had family who flew with the Australian Flying Corps then you should view these images. The curator’s notes on these pages are wonderful.

There are a variety of newsreels available to view. You can view documentaries, short films, television programs and other historical images and sound recordings relevant to Australia.

Europe

European Film Gateway is a film archive for Europe. It is still small but is growing. You can view clips of films most of which are foreign language but have English subtitles.

Have fun viewing and listening to these wonderful archives. Let me know if you find something interesting.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

In Search of Military Ancestors – Military Archives and Remembrance Projects

These websites are actively remembering the efforts and recording the stories of military personnel involved in the conflicts of the 20th century. If your ancestor did not participate in the project you may find someone who served along side and learn something about their experiences during active service.

England

Captive Memories is a website that is home to an oral history project involving the 50,000 British servicemen who became Far East Prisoners of War in the Second World War. The dates they cover are December 1941 through March 1942. This is a database that you can search for interviews that were done of 62 FEPOWs. There are sections that provide links and other information.

There is the First World War Poetry Digital Archive which consists of collections of major poets of the time period, multimedia artifacts from the Imperial War Museum and an archive of over 6,500 items which were contributed to the project by the general public.

The Great War Archive not only has items relating to England but also some from Germany. Here you can find links to the Great War Archive Flickr Group, Europeana and Deutsche Nationalbibliothek.

The Imperial War Museum is a wealth of information for anyone doing research into the British military.

The Imperial War Museum has a Sound Archive that covers a broad range of experiences from the Boer War through the two World Wars and more modern conflicts. The recordings themselves are not available online but the catalogue will give you an idea of what is available at the Imperial War Museum.

There is a website in England dedicated to British Military Nurses and it provides information and links to help you with your research. She also has a blog called “This Intrepid Band” where she provides more information.

Canada

Dominion Institute and Canadian Heritage have a website called “The Memory Project” whose aim is to “explore over 90 years of military oral history, with firsthand accounts from the First World War through to the present day conflict in Afghanistan.” The website states that the stories were collected between 2003 and 2006. They have just received funding to start the Memory Project: Stories of the Korean War.

The Canadian Military Heritage Project provides links to websites to help with your research and it covers many different conflicts through the ages

United States

The Library of Congress in the United States has a similar project entitled “Experiencing War” from the Veterans History Project. There is an alphabetical listing of the participants.

Have you come across other websites that provide similar information? If so please leave a comment below.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

The Top Five for English Family History Research

These are my top five lists of books, blogs and websites that can assist you with your family history research in England. Do you have any that you feel should be added? If so please leave a comment.

Books

Ancestral Trails” by Mark D. Herber; published by Genealogical Publishing Co.

Tracing your Ancestors in the National Archives: The website and beyond” by Amanda Bevan; published by The National Archives of England

Parish & Registration Districts in England & Wales” by Dr. Penelope Christensen; published by Heritage Productions

A Genealogical Gazetteer of England” Compiled by Frank Smith; published by Genealogical Publishing Co.

Army Records for Family Historians” by Simon Fowler and William Spencer; published by The National Archives of England

Blogs

The Family Recorder

British and Irish Genealogy

Great War Heroes

Anglo Celtic Connections

London Roots Research

Websites

FreeBMD

A2A Access to Archives

National Archives Documents Online

England Jurisdictions 1851 Map

GENUKI

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

A Vision of Britain Through Time

A Vision of Britain Through Time is a very interesting website. It is a snapshot of Britain from 1801 to 2001 and includes maps, statistical trends and historical descriptions.

Whenever I go to websites like this I put in Stalybridge in Cheshire. It is a small village and a good test for this kind of site. There is a small map showing its location in Cheshire. You have subtopics of location, historical writing, units and statistics, related websites and places names. There is a link to the website Ancestral Atlas.

Location provides a small map and an entry from John Bartholomew’s Gazetteer of the British Isles from 1887. There is a note that suggests the information for the modern district of Tameside should be examined. The area of Stalybridge has changed and this is where additional information may be found.

If you click on the map you are taken to a page with links for ten topographic maps, thirteen boundary maps and three land use maps. The first part of the page contains the links and then there is a table of the maps with more details, thumbnail pictures and links below. If you click on the thumbnails you get a larger searchable map.

Using the link to Tameside you get historical statistics such as population, industry, social class, learning and language, agriculture and land use, life and death, work and poverty, housing and roots and religion. These links are the most useful to the family historian.

You will find a boundary map, unit history and boundary changes and related higher and lower level units.

Back to Stalybridge under historical writing you find descriptive gazetteer entries and entries found in travel writing. Under travel writings you find an entry from John Wesley, 1744-45.

Under units and statistics you have election results for three constituencies for Stalybridge. You will find six different administrative areas for Stalybridge and historical statistics with the same topics as Tameside. If you click on the area you want to examine it takes you to another page. There is a note above the table to be careful as a unit may cover a town, village or larger surrounding area. Units with the suffixes of RD or RSD may exclude the place they are named after.

Related websites had one entry for Genuki with two links to different pages. Then there are links to other websites that have information that is geo-referenced and covers Stalybridge. I chose Flickr where you find some photographs relating to the general area of Stalybridge. They are modern photographs and provide a look at the village today.

Place names provide the different references for the village. There is a link to the travel writing or descriptive gazetteer where the place name is found. There is a listing of names found in administrative units which are associated with Stalybridge.

Other general topics include statistical atlas, historical maps, census reports, travel writing and learning resources. Statistical atlas contains the same topics found in Tameside under historical statistics but it is more general in nature. Historical maps contain maps from places such as England, Wales, Scotland, Great Britain and Europe.

Census reports cover the years 1801 to 1971. Each year contains different statistical information but it would be worth investigating to find out more about your geographical area of interest.

Travel writings cover England, Scotland and Wales. The works of James Boswell, Samuel Johnson and John and Charles Wesley, amongst others, can be found under this heading. The writings range from Gerald Wales description of Wales in the 1190s to George Borrow’s trip through Wales in 1854.

The last general topic is Learning Resources. Here you can view E-learning tutorials for agricultural changes, travelling, mapping boundaries, census taking and changing constituencies.

This website will provide family historians with a good idea of how their ancestors may have lived and the times in which they lived. The maps are a good resource to help you with your research and the notes on boundary changes are invaluable.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

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