News from the Wormhole

The latest news and tips from the world of genealogy and family history; and perhaps some local history.
This is something new to the Ancestral Wormhole blog.  A round-up of bits and pieces of news, together with some book recommendations, local history and TV.  If this is a success I might do some more!
Horrible Handwriting
For the past three Wednesday afternoons I have been on a Horrible Handwriting course at the Cheshire Record Office.  This is an excellent course on the introduction to Paleography; we are already deciphering old wills and parish registers.  It is a 4 week course (four 2 hour sessions) and would recommend it to anyone who wants to start reading old documents.  You can meet like minded people, have great help from the archivists, get plenty of handouts, plus refreshments; what more could you ask for. I am sure they will run another course in the not to distant future.
Cheshire Record Office Web Site
If you are new to the Cheshire Record Office web site here are a couple of tips that could save you some time.  Firstly the big buttons at the top of the page don’t work if you have the Firefox or Chrome browsers.  However the text links underneath the buttons work fine.  If you are looking for any of the searchable databases  then click on the ‘Search & Shop’ link.

Cheshire Collection on FMP
Whilst we were on the handwriting course, the Cheshire Record Office announced that Find My Past had just published the Cheshire Collection.  It is an amazing collection comprising 10 million records which span the period 1538-1910.  A fantastic resource for anyone with Cheshire ancestors, it contains the following records:
  • Bishop’s Transcripts of the Parish Registers 1576-1905
  • Church of England Parish Registers 1538-1910
  • Electoral Registers 1842-1900
  • Marriage Licence Bonds and Allegations 1663-1905
  • Non-Conformist and Roman Catholic Records 1671-1910
  • Workhouse Registers 1781-1910
To complete the Cheshire Collection they will soon be publishing Chester Wills and Probate records, and the Land Tax Records.
Find My Past
You can currently get a 10% reduction on the normal Find My Past subscription cost by using the WDYTYA811 discount code.
Find My Past – Ireland
For those of you using the findmypast.ie web site (Find My Past Ireland) – they have just launched a Family Tree Builder on the site.  Some of the main features of the software include:
  • Add, edit, update and delete relations.
  • Add partners, parents and children.
  • Search your own tree or other member’s family trees.
  • Upload photos and link them to relations.
  • Other member’s trees and Historical records are automatically searched and displayed.
  • View your immediate family, ancestors, descendants or whole family tree
WDYTYA (USA) Series 2
Current plans are to show the USA Series 2 of Who Do You Think You Are in a regular slot over the coming weeks, with an episode featuring Ashley Judd set to be shown next Wednesday, 23 November.  If you missed the first of the series featuring Steve Buscemi you can still catch it on the BBC iPlayer
Find My Past (The TV Programme)

Find My Past the TV show is an exciting new 10-part series which unites ordinary members of the public with their ancestors.  Each week, they take three members of the public on a journey to discover how they are related to someone from a significant historical event, by searching the records on findmypast.co.uk. they follow each of them as they uncover who their ancestor is and the part they played in history, before uniting the participants to find out how they are connected.

The show is screened on Thursdays at 9pm on the Yesterday channel: Freeview channel 12, Sky 537, Virgin Media 203. Chris Hollins of BBC Breakfast, Watchdog and winner of Strictly Come Dancing 2009 presents the show.  Unfortunately it is not on FreeSat so I have not seen any any of the episodes!!  You can find out more about the shows here –  Find My Past TV.

Heir Hunters – BBC2
The return of the Heir Hunters this time to a prime time slot on BBC2.  This gives you an indication of the popularity the program has gained from genealogists, family historians, etc. during its morning slot.  If you have never seen it before then watch it for its research methods, also its very moving story lines.  Some people prefer it to WDYTYA, it gives you the research and human elements that the first series of WDYTYA had.  If you haven’t written a will yet, you will (pardon the pun) after seeing this program.
Tracing Your Roots – BBC Radio 4
Now that the latest series of WDYTYA has ended and you are pining for something genealogy, then download and listen to some of the podcasts of Tracing your Roots.  Again a under-rated radio programme with some fantastic content.  It is presented by Sally Magnusson and Nick Barratt of WDYTYA fame.  It has inspirational family history stories and key genealogy advice, they uncover personal perspectives on social history and give listeners the tools to become family history detectives.
Book of the Month
This is an expensive book to buy, but once you have used it in a record office or local library you realise its worth to the british genealogist.  It is my book of the month for its invaluable help in understanding the parish boundaries during recent research into my family surname TIMMINS in the Dudley area of Worcestershire.
My Current Book Reading List
Being a Cestrian, well nearly!  Apparently you need to be born inside the Chester City Walls, I was born just outside in the City Hospital.  Anyway, I am an avid collector and reader of all things to do with Chester and the surrounding area.  Chester has an incredible history dating from the Roman times, so in addition to genealogy expect a few books here to do with Chester and its history.
125 Years on the Borderline by Chas Sumner – A book about the history of Chester City Football Club from 1885 to March 10th 2010 when it was wound up in the High Court.  An impressive book full of facts, information, photographs and statistics.  For me it brings back lots of memories of the early 1960’s when my father first started taking me to the football games at Sealand Road – Happy days!  Chas Sumner is the official Chester Football Club historian, he writes articles for the local newspaper and the club program, and he often provides radio commentary on the games.
Tracing Your Family History on the Internet by Chris Paton – This is a book that I thought I didn’t need!  After reading it I realised I did need it after all.  It is one of those reference books that points you towards research sources. When you are researching a new area of the country or a new subject this is the book to get you started.  It will be a useful book for those just starting out on their genealogy voyage or if you are already experienced.  A great addition to my genealogy bookshelf.

Family Tree Maker 2012

Family Tree Maker software has been around for many years, I started using it back in 1997 and it is my main database.  It tends to be re-invented every 12 months with a high upgrade cost; whether the improvements year on year are worth it is debatable.  I dabble with other family tree software but always come back to it as I know how it works, I don’t want to learn another programme and I don’t trust GEDCOM to transfer my data to other tree software.  If you are looking for a Xmas present then the Platinum Edition it is excellent value for money as it comes with 6 months PREMIUM membership to ancestry.co.uk which would normally cost £77.  Family Tree Maker 2012 Platinum Edition (PC)

If you want to know more about FTM2012 then checkout the blog Genea-Musings.
Randy Seaver is the prolific writer of this blog, he has written a series describing his experiences of using this latest version of FTM.  You will find his descriptions and comments – imparcial, comprehensive and understandable.

That’s all for now folks, I hope you enjoyed reading News from the Wormhole as much as I enjoyed writing it

At Home!

Well here I am again, sitting at home wondering what to do now that the holiday season is over and the weather is deteriorating!  I have neglected my blog and family history research for a number of months as outdoor activities beckoned, so I think it is now time to ease myself back into genealogy mode with a nice easy post on my blog.
I have further reason to be inactive right now as I injured my knee whilst on holiday in Brittany (France).  My daughter got married in early July, as you can imagine the weeks leading up to this were quite hectic so a couple of days later we took our touring caravan to Brittany for a long 4 week break.  On the second day at the first camp site we decided to put up the awning on the outside of the caravan  As I was squatting down to hammer in one of the pegs something happened inside my knee, a sharp pain and 2 days of swollen knee followed.  We completed the holiday without too much of a problem, but I now realise I should have taken more care following the incident! My knee never recovered and deteriorated further.  Following a consultation with a specialist last week I find that I have a Meniscal Cartilage Tear which now needs surgery.
I find that one of the great things about being away from home and all its diversions is the ability to relax and read some of the books that have been gathering dust in the bookcase.  From a genealogists viewpoint one book I read stands out from all the others, in fact until I started to read it I never gave any thought to its relevance to family history.  The book I am referring to is At Home by Bill Bryson.  It is also available for the Kindle.
Bill Bryson seems to have the ability to grab your attention and draw you in to his books right from the start.  Perhaps its a ‘man thing’ but I love the obscure facts that he keeps coming up with, I want to keep reading on and on to see what’s next.  The introduction starts with a cracker about Norfolk churches and why they all appear to have sunk into the ground, the fact is that they haven’t, it is the churchyard’s that have risen, 3 feet or more in some cases.  I won’t tell you why as it would spoil the start of the book.  The book is a fascinating journey back to 1851 with hundreds of facts that will keep a family historian glued to the book.  The research that went into this book is amazing, there are 33 pages of Bibliography, there is also a comprehensive 28 page index.  In my opinion a thoroughly good read, highly recommended.

Book of the Month – An idea for a new widget

Thought – If I had injured my knee back in 1851 then I would have been a cripple for the rest of my life, thank goodness for modern medicine and surgery.