July 26, 2006

FreeREG to be searchable "in the very near future"

The project manager of FreeREG, a parish register companion site to the hugely successful FreeBMD for civil registration and FreeCEN for censuses, reports that "testing is complete and was successful" and "we hope to go live with search in the very near future" with "over 1 million entries". The project is actively seeking volunteer transcribers. Update: On August 23, the project manager reported that "we now have 1,066,365 entries ready for when go live." On August 25, one of the county coordinators wrote that "we expect the FreeREG system to go operational within the next 4 weeks."

July 25, 2006

1.7 million new entries at FreeBMD

On Sunday FreeBMD added another 1.7 million entries. These quarters had more than 50,000 additions each:

  • births in Mar 1851, Sep 1851, Dec 1853, Jun 1855, Sep 1855, Dec 1855, Mar 1869, and Jun 1869 and
  • marriages in Dec 1876 and Sep 1915.

July 21, 2006

Another TNA podcast: British soldiers in India 1750-1914

Earlier this month I wrote about plans to podcast lectures given at The National Archives. TNA has since announced the availability of another lecture: Sahib, the British Soldier in India 1750-1914, by Richard Holmes, Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield University. (See his BBC biography.) I still can't find any explanation of how to find these lectures other than by chance and perseverance. The two I've found so far are both in the directory www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/podcast/, but looking there directly just results in The directory you are trying to access does not allow the contents to be listed. Not helpful.

July 19, 2006

640k new records at Family History Online

Yesterday Family History Online added 640,000 new records. Existing databases for Derbyshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, and Yorkshire (Wakefield district) were updated. Entirely new databases were added for Cambridgeshire, Sussex (Billingshurst), Warwickshire, and Yorkshire (Leeds district).

Ancestry planning to expand into French and Spanish records?

MyFamily.com, parent company of Ancestry.com, appears to be planning an expansion into records from France and Spain (and/or francophone Canada and Mexico). Current job openings linked from their careers webpage include a Content Specialist - Spanish Records "proficient in family history research of Mexico, Spain, or other Spanish-language records" and a Content Specialist - French Records "proficient in family history research of French records in France and/or Canada".

July 14, 2006

More additions to FreeCEN

On July 13th FreeCEN added census data from

  • Argyllshire, Dumfries-shire, Fife, Lanarkshire, Morayshire, Ross and Cromarty, and Sutherland in 1841;
  • Inverness-shire in 1851;
  • Cornwall, Devon, Hampshire, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Somerset, and Yorkshire in 1861;
  • Carmarthenshire, Cornwall, Flintshire, Nairn, Scottish Shipping, and Wiltshire in 1871;
  • Cornwall in 1881; and
  • Cumberland, Lancashire, Lancashire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Staffordshire, and Warwickshire in 1891.
This brings their database to a total of 7.9 million records.

British overseas BMD indexes online free

FamilyRelatives has added "100 million" records of British overseas births, marriages, and deaths. (Can it really be that many?) These are scanned images of the General Register Office indexes, not transcribed, searchable by index type, date range, and surname range. For example, you don't search for the birth of John SMITH in 1874. Instead you select "Search", then "Overseas", then "Births", then (for example) "GRO Consular Birth Indices", then "1871-1875", then "S", then "SKENE Ralph Rangabe - SMITH William Rait". And then, if you have the right viewer installed, you see an image of a handwritten index that includes volume and page references for SMITH John (registered at Constantinople) and SMITH John Salmon (registered at Alexandria). Yes, this is a clunky interface that could be (and should be) improved, but it's free, and it's not available free online anywhere else. (Update: The same data are available for a fee at 1837online.) Dick Eastman's EOGN blog has posted more information about these records from the FamilyRelatives newsletter. Three tips: (1) You have to register to use these indexes. On the FamilyRecords homepage there's a link to "Overseas Records", and links from that page to further information about each of the overseas BMD indexes. But this is only explanatory material. To actually search, you need to register and log in, and then a "Search" tab will miraculously appear. (2) From the Search tab, choose "Overseas", not "BMD", which would take you instead to the more familiar civil registration indexes for England and Wales. (3) Viewing the images requires the free DjVu browser plugin. If you don't have this, you won't get an error message, you just won't see any images. If that happens, click on the "Help" tab and choose "DJVU Plugin" for instructions.

July 13, 2006

Durham and Northumberland wills 1540-1857 to go online by 2009

Durham University has announced the North East Inheritance project to make 150,000 pre-1858 wills from Durham and Northumberland available online. All wills proved by Church of England courts in the diocese of Durham will be included. A searchable catalog (to be completed in 2009) will be linked to images of the actual documents on the website of the Genealogical Society of Utah (presumably this means FamilySearch). Both searching the catalog and viewing the images will be free. Local volunteers are being sought to help with the cataloging. To volunteer, follow the first link above and look under the heading The staff and volunteers. See also the university's news release and a BBC news item.

Records of the Burgh of Glasgow

New at British History Online: Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Glasgow, volumes 1 (1573-1642), 2 (1630-1662), and 3 (1663-1690), originally published in 1876, 1881, and 1905 respectively. These books "contain extracts from the Council Records of the Burgh and from the accounts of the city Treasurers. ... Two volumes of the Charters of the city will be added to the site in the next few weeks. Over the next two years we shall be adding similar records for the same period for the city of Edinburgh."

July 12, 2006

Podcasts of National Archives lectures

According to a snippet in Ancestors magazine (July 2006, p. 6) "you can now download podcasts of recent lectures given at The National Archives". More detailed instructions would be helpful. So far I can only find one example: a talk by Maxine Berg, Professor of History at the University of Warwick, about inventions in eighteenth-century Britain. The talk was originally presented at part of a TNA exhibition on Inventors and Inventions: Patents, Protest and Power in the Industrial Revolution 1750-1890.

July 6, 2006

Index to Court of Chancery cases, 1625-1649

British Origins has added an index (created by Peter Coldham) to cases in the Court of Chancery during the reign of Charles I (1625-1649). Only a brief case reference is given, but Origins offers an abstract service (for £16) to find out more. The National Archives, where the originals of these documents are held, provides some information on Court of Chancery cases in its Catalogue, but there is little or no information on most cases during this period. The catalogue states that "details of cases are being entered into the online catalogue from the existing finding aids (starting with those for the reign of Elizabeth I), but for some years to come the main route of access will remain the paper finding aids available at The National Archives." Ancestry has scanned images of the book A Calendar of Chancery Proceedings: Bills and Answers Filed in the Reign of King Charles the First, which was published in the late 1800s. Since viewing this requires a "deluxe" subscription, which I don't have, I'm not sure how this book differs from the new offering. Update: The 19th-century Calendar is also available at HeritageQuest Online (a service for public libraries). It appears to contain the same underlying information as the Origins database, with some spelling variations, but it is not conveniently searchable. Searching Ancestry's version should be straightforward if you have the necessary subscription.

July 5, 2006

Royal Naval Division records online

DocumentsOnline now has searchable scanned records of the 50,000 officers and men who served in World War I in the Royal Naval Division (RND). These were land forces formed in September 1914 from the Royal Navy reserves, which turned out to have more men than were needed at sea. A record typically includes

  • home address;
  • occupation;
  • religion;
  • name and address of next-of-kin;
  • career in the RND, such as where served, significant events, awards, and details of action;
  • in the event of wounding, the nature of the wound and the hospital where treated; and
  • for ratings, a physical description.
Sometimes there is other information too, such as place of birth or ability to swim. Searching is free. Actual records (in PDF format) cost £3.50 each.

June-July additions to A2A

During June and early July, the Access to Archives (A2A) database added records from the East Sussex Record Office, English Heritage National Monuments Record, Coventry Archives, Warwickshire County Record Office, Anglesey County Record Office, Carmarthenshire Archive Service, Meirionnydd Record Office (part of Gwynedd Archives), Portsmouth Museums and Records Service, and Royal Northern College of Music (in Manchester). See A2A's New This Month for more details.

July 3, 2006

New releases from Archive CD Books

In June Archive CD Books released these titles: