August 20, 2014

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!

Heroic Rescue! 5000 WWI Photos Saved by a Rubbish Collector

WWI photos, World War I photographs

British volunteers for “Kitchener’s Army” waiting for their pay in the churchyard of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London. August 1914. Wikimedia Commons Image

One man has spent years rescuing thousands of WWI photos, letters and other artifacts from the trash. The full story, reported recently by the U.K’s MailOnline, tells the story of this heroic effort.

According to the article, dustman (garbage collector) Bob Smethurst began started this rescue mission about thirty years ago. As he dumped waste cans, he would sometimes spot old pictures, letters and other memorabilia spilling into the masher. He’d rescue them when he could. Now he’s got an enormous collection.

Mr. Smethurst noticed a lot of this World War I material being thrown out during the 1970s and 1980s as veterans died of old age. He guesses that a similar amount of World War II material has been heading to landfills or burn piles in recent years.

Have you ever rescued someone’s family artifacts from oblivion? Tell us about it on the Genealogy Gems Facebook pageA hat tip to Premium Member Kimberly for alerting me to this article!

10 Brothers Served in WWI: An Amazing Story

Tyne Cot Cemetery. Photo by Sgt Jez Doak, RAF/MOD, via Wikimedia Commons at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/74/War_Graves_at_Tyne_Cot_Cemetary%2C_Belgium_MOD_45156481.jpg

Tyne Cot Cemetery. Photo by Sgt Jez Doak, RAF/MOD, via Wikimedia Commons at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/74/War_Graves_at_Tyne_Cot_Cemetary%2C_Belgium_MOD_45156481.jpg

The Press (York, UK) recently reported a story about 10 brothers who all enlisted to fight in World War I and the hubbub that followed.

“The family became minor celebrities because of the brothers’ service, and their story was used as a recruitment tool as the war went on,” reports the Press. Fortunately, most of these Irish immigrant boys came home alive. The story reports the recent discovery of one of their graves.

Have you ever found something like this in your family–stories of extraordinary sacrifice made during wartime? Tell us about it on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page!