September 2, 2014

Minnie Driver on WDYTYA: Family Secrets Close to Home

Photo by Simon Fanthorpe, Wall to Wall Media Limited.

Photo by Simon Fanthorpe, Wall to Wall Media Limited.

Tomorrow’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? (WDYTYA) with Minnie Driver hits close to home–her own home. She’s not chasing stories of distant ancestors but of her own secretive father. And she doesn’t just imagine the lives of long-dead relatives: she meets living ones!

So here’s what I’m allowed to tell you ahead of time: Minnie’s parents split up when she was young because her dad was already married and had another family. She did know her dad, but he rarely talked about himself.  Her goal on the show is to learn what she can about him and pass on a family legacy to her own young child.

Using sources familiar to genealogists–live interviews, a birth record, census entries, a military history book and more–she learns how her dad’s World War II combat experiences in the Royal Air Force  affected the rest of his life. For the first time, she meets a relative on her father’s side of the family. In the process, she finds a kindred spirit in a family member she never knew about.

I can’t give away any more about Minnie Driver on WDYTYA, but I can share a couple of juicy by-the-way details:

  • The Wellington bomber you see on display at the Brooklands Museum was discovered years ago at the bottom of Loch Ness! The expert who shows the plane to Minnie spearheaded the effort to salvage it and is now trying to completely restore it.
  • Her dad’s “flying stress” wasn’t well understood by the medical community at the time. That’s probably why he was twice hospitalized for his condition. It looks like nobody knew how to help him and nobody really did.

Enjoy the episode! It airs tomorrow night, Wednedsay, August 27, 2014 on TLC. Find out more at TLC.com.

New Editions of Old Papers Now at the British Newspaper Archive

London Standard British Newspaper ArchiveMore than 8.5 million newspaper pages from 1710-1954 are now available to search at The British Newspaper Archive. Recent titles cover England, Scotland and Northern Ireland and include the London Evening Standard, Glasgow’s Daily Record and the Northern Whig.

The first years from the following new titles have been added to The British Newspaper Archive:

  • Biggleswade Chronicle, covering 1912
  • Daily Record, covering 1914-1915
  • Lake’s Falmouth Packet and Cornwall Advertiser, covering 1864
  • London Evening Standard, covering 1860-1862 and 1866-1867
  • Newcastle Evening Chronicle, covering 1915
  • Northern Whig, covering 1869-1870
  • Surrey Comet, covering 1854-1857 and 1859-1870
  • Watford Observer, covering 1864-1865, 1867, 1869-1870

Check out the latest additions of old news now at The British Newspaper Archive here!

How to Find Your Family History in NewspapersWant to learn more about using old newspapers in your genealogy research? Check out my book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers. You’ll learn what kinds of family items you’ll find mentioned in old newspapers; how to find the right newspapers for your family; and how to locate old editions–both online and offline.

WDYTYA 2014: Preview of TOMORROW’s Episode!

WDYTYA 2014This week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? features talented actress Rachel McAdams and her sister Kayleen. I caught a quick preview of it and it doesn’t disappoint! I won’t spoil it for you, but I’ll tell you that I especially love the “sister dynamic,” as they describe it. “We know different stories, we have different versions,” they say. Isn’t that the truth in all families?

I also love the story they discover about an ancestral servant in a grand home (you’ll love this if you’re a Downton Abbey fan!). Another peek into history unfolds their Canadian ancestors’ lives as British Loyalists during the Revolutionary War.

Here’s the description of this WDYTYA 2014 episode from TLC:

“Rachel McAdams and her younger sister Kayleen go on a journey together to unearth their maternal roots, since their mother knows so little about her history. First they follow the trail of their English grandfather’s family, and find an ancestor who sacrificed much of his personal freedom to support his wife and children. Then, while tracking their grandmother’s side, Rachel and Kayleen discover just how deeply connected they are to Canada and a pivotal moment in Canadian history.”

Airs August 6 at 9PM ET/PT on TLC. Tell us what you thought of the episode on our Facebook page after the show!

“Long Lost Family” Season 4 Starts Strong

giving_hug_pc_3332Have you caught the new season of the British television show Long Lost Family? Critic Michael Hogan of The Telegraph (UK) did, and he gave it a 4-star review.

This ITV series follows the stories of people who are trying to reunite with (you guessed it) long lost family members. Hogan was hooked pretty quickly: “Within precisely four minutes, even this cynical, stony-hearted critic.. [was] blinking back tears.” He goes on to summarize the stories of birth parents and children who reunited on one episode of the show. Then he concludes, “This was effective, absorbing television that delivered two happy endings. By the time the credits rolled, I was blubbing like an Argentine footballer.” (See the full review here.)

Have YOU seen the show yet? Check it out  at the ITV website (looks like episodes show for free for a limited time after airing). Or catch the show on ITV on Mondays at 9pm (BST).

Saw the show? Tell us what you think on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page!

 

 

FREE WWI Genealogy Records on MyHeritage.com (Just in July!)

MH_logo_VerticalTo commemorate 100 years since WWI, MyHeritage has granted free access to various record collections from now through the end of July. Were your ancestors among those who fought? Learn more about their service by searching hundreds of thousands of WWI military records.

Enjoy FREE access to these collections until the end of July:

Silver War Badge Recipients, 1914 – 1918

British Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914 – 1919

The National Roll of the Great War, 1914 – 1918

Tennessee WWI Veterans

Ireland’s Memorial Records, 1914 – 1918

Royal Navy and Royal Marine Casualties, 1914 – 1919

De Ruvigny’s Roll Of Honour 1914-1924

Distinguished Conduct Medal Citations 1914 – 1920

British Officers Taken as Prisoners of War, 1914 – 1918

British Military Officers

Victoria Cross Recipients, 1854 – 2006

You can also search all their military collections in one go.

Discover the wartime roles your relatives played in our online record database of WWI military records. This free offer ends July 31, so start your search today!

WWI 100 Year Anniversary: 5 Ways to Discover Your Family History in World War I

WWI 100 YearsThis summer, the world is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War 1. It’s hard to imagine any family that wasn’t touched by it in some way.

If you want to learn more, here are 5 great resources:

1. The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century website. This site was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities in the U.S., so it approaches the war from an American perspective. A press release describes it as “an authoritative overview [of the War], one that covers the most important facts and interpretations, is well organized, visually appealing, and guided by sound scholarship.” The site is based on the award-winning, 8-part television series of the same name.

2. The National Archives First World War website. This is the U.K. National Archives, holder of “official UK government records of the First World War, including a vast collection of letters, diaries, maps and photographs.” On the site you can chat with a reader advisor, read (or help tag) war diaries, and more. They plan 5 years’ worth of programming to commemorate the war, so check back at the site regularly.

3. Look on FindMyPast.com for close to a half million British Airmens’ service records, now online. According to a press release, these “contain information about an individual’s peacetime and military career, as well as physical description, religious denomination and family status. Next of kin are also often mentioned.”  It’s free to search but there’s a small fee for downloading records.

4. 100 Years, 100 Legacies website (as shown above). The Wall Street Journal has selected 100 legacies of the Great War that continue to shape our lives, from plastic surgery to contraception and more. Check this out. It’s pretty fascinating!

5. The July/August 2014 issue of Family Tree Magazine (U.S.). It’s got a World War I timeline, a guide to researching WWI military service records (U.S.), and how to research women’s service in the Great War. This is a really nice issue.

Check out these resources during the WWI 100 year anniversary and think about what other resources you may have missed: what’s in your own family memory, home archive (or your grandma’s attic) or available through another website you know?

Twins Reunited 78 Years After Separation at Birth

Two women born from the same womb lived their lives entirely separately–until recently, when these long-lost twins reunited.

TheBlaze.com reported on and followed up with a BBC video of the happy reunion. The article says the women set a world record for the longest-known separated twins. The women are likely fraternal twins, but at the time of the article, were awaiting DNA test results.

According to TheBlaze, “Both women were born in Aldershot, England, in 1936. Their mother, a domestic servant, decided to give up one of the girls after their birth father fled. [Elizabeth Hamel, the twin who was not adopted out] said she [the mom] kept her because she was born with curvature of the spine, which would have made it more difficult for her to be adopted.”

The article explains that Hamel grew up knowing she had a twin but never expecting to see her. Eventually she married an American and moved to the U.S. Meanwhile, her sister, Ann Hunt, was adopted and raised in England. She only learned about a year ago that she had a twin.

What a moving story! Ann and Elizabeth sure have a lot to catch up on. And how interesting to see sleuthing skills we use in genealogy–like a search for a mother and DNA testing to confirm relatedness–put into action to strengthen ties among living relatives.

240K New Pages Now Online at the British Newspaper Archive

stick_figure_reading_newspaper_500_clr

Here’s a headline-worthy announcement!

In the past month, 240,000 extra pages from 1790-1954 were made searchable at the British Newspaper Archive. You’ll now find editions of London’s Penny Illustrated Paper, the Dundee, Perth and Forfar People’s Journal and the Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald online. 56 other titles were also updated, including the Aberdeen Journal, the Kent & Sussex Courier and the Morpeth Herald. (Click here for a full list of recent additions.)

The British Newspaper Archive is a partnership project between the British Library and DC Thomson Family History (formally known as brightsolid online publishing, owners of Findmypast). From November 2011 to 2021, up to 40 million pages from historical newspapers across the UK and Ireland will be uploaded to the website. The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom.

Want to learn more about doing newspaper research? Check out Lisa’s book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, available in print or as an ebook. I especially love how she walks readers through the process of finding newspapers online, beginning with FREE resources!

 

Findmypast + Origins.net = More British and Irish Records!

three_intersecting_arrow_circles_standout_11882Findmypast.co.uk announced recently that it has bought Origins.net, an early pioneer of online records.

“Origins.net specializes in unusual and often hard to find British and Irish records,” says a Findmypast press release. “Its many early records include rare marriage indexes, apprentices and poor law records….Its National Wills Index, combined with collections currently on Findmypast and those in development, will provide the largest online resource for UK wills and probate material.”

What does this mean for users of both sites? “The extensive record sets from Origins will be brought into Findmypast over the next few months and the Origins website will continue to run as usual,” explains the press release.

Elaine Collins, Partnership Director of Findmypast said: “By joining together, we are able to offer customers the most comprehensive collection of British and Irish online records. This rich collection will help descendants of early North American settlers to bridge the gap to the old country, as well as anyone with UK ancestry looking to delve beyond 19th and 20th century records.”

Ian Galbraith, founder of Origins, said: “The partnership with Findmypast makes perfect sense for both companies and their customers. We have had a long association and together we can offer a broader family history experience and help people to fill in the blanks on the family tree and enrich their family story.”

The British Newspaper Archive Reaches 8 Million Online Pages

stick_figure_reading_newspaper_500_clrThe British Newspaper Archive has reached a new major milestone: 8 million newspaper pages now online!  The counter on the homepage ticked over that amount while adding editions of the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Cheshire Observer and The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer.

If you’ve tried searching for a person, event or place before without success, it’s well worth trying again now–and you can try a search for FREE. 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.

Looking for something that’s not there yet?

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. See a list of the newspaper titles that have been added or updated in the last 30 days here.

Who’s  doing this?

The British Newspaper Archive is a partnership project between the British Library and DC Thomson Family History (formerly known as brightsolid online publishing, mother company of the FindMyPast family of genealogy websites). From November 2011 to 2021, up to 40 million pages from historical newspapers across the UK and Ireland will be uploaded to the website.

Learn more about finding your relatives in the paper in my book,How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers How to Find Your Family History in  Newspapers. It’s available as an e-book or in print. Read all about it here!