News From The Wormhole – Dec 2011

The latest news and tips from the world of genealogy and family history; and perhaps some local history.  A round-up of bits and pieces of news, together with some book recommendations, local history and TV.  If you missed last months edition then catch up here – News Nov 2011
FHS Cheshire Toolbar
Check out the free toolbar at the Family History Society of Cheshire web site, it works with Firefox, IE, Safari and Chrome.  All the links are here for exploring Cheshire and the surrounding counties, plus lots of useful UK sites and all the commercial sites.  All the links you need in one place!
Outwit Hub (Firefox add-on)
If you have been following my exploits searching for the origins of the TIMMINS surname, you will have noticed I found a web extraction tool called Outwit Hub.  Since the last post I have been reading the tutorials, they have proved really useful, enabling me to refine the way I extract data from genealogy web pages.  You often find hidden data that can be really useful.  You can try it for free from the Outwit Hub page.

British Newspaper Archive
There has already been lots of reviews on this new resource already.  However the blog post by Kirsty Wilkinson, at the Professional Descendant, is an excellent first hand experience view by a professional genealogist and worth a read.
One of my favourite newsletters is just out – LostCousins.  The author Peter Calver has been busy using the Freedom of Information Act, getting to the bottom of the GRO fiasco on the losses made by increasing the cost of BMD certificates.

Getting your ancestors into the LostCousins database is really easy and it’s confidential, I currently have for England & Wales: 1881 – 54 entries; 1841 – 48 entries; and 1911 – 39 entries.  You are not restricted just to the UK as Ireland, Canada and the United States Census’ are also supported.

Genealogy Search Sites
Dedicated search engines for genealogy research can be very useful tools filtering out adverts and unnecessary hits.  Here are two search sites that I use on a regular basis: first is the Google based search by Randy Majors – AncestorSearch using Google Custom Search Randy says:

This tool helps you build a better Google search for finding web pages mentioning your ancestors. It returns a more focused set of search results by using advanced Google search techniques including exact phrases, forward and reverse name order, alternate name spellings, logical operators, and so on. Nothing magical, just a big time-saver!

The second is Mocavo – Today they announced a premium PLUS version with an annual subscription of $79.95 which seems rather expensive if you ask me!!  I can’t comment in depth though as I have not tried it.  Dick Eastman has reviewed it in his latest EOG Newsletter.  My interest stems from the announcement on 29th Nov when Mocavo introduced a dedicated UK version of the search tool –  Initial results using the search were very encouraging, I would urge you to give it a try.  The Mocavo blog said: 

Today we’re thrilled to launch – a United Kingdom version of Mocavo that will search websites, blogs, records and content specifically from, or discussing, English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh decent.  While searches sites and blogs from around the world, and will continue to do so, will focus specifically on the United Kingdom, giving those who wish to narrow their search to that region the ability to do just that.

My wife has a far more interesting family history than I do!  On her maternal side having links to the Indian sub-continent and on the paternal side to the Brock Fireworks dynasty.  I have been assisting in the family research on both sides, but I find the Indian connection absorbing.  I am always looking for interesting articles or new avenues for research in this area.

The Families in British India Society (FIBIS) has partnered with Brightsolid to digitise many of the India Office Records for the British Library. The India Office records will be available online to users of Brightsolid’s website.  Included in the project are two million records of baptism, marriage and burials of European and Anglo-Indian persons in India. **I can’t wait**

An interesting blog post that came to my attention recently was by Anu Anand Hall at Sacred Cows.  Read about Anu tracing her Hindu ancestry with the aid of panda’s, no not the animals! 

Google+ Webinar

On 29th Nov I listened to a Dan Lynch Legacy Webinar – Take a Closer Look at Google+  If you are a genealogist and serious about Google+ you have to watch this.  Understand why completing your G+ Profile is so important.  Be quick though before this webinar becomes payable.  –Listen here —
Book of the Month – December 2011
Reared in Chester Zoo by Janice Madden   I go to Chester zoo regularly and never get bored. This book opened my eyes to the history of the site, reminding me of the times when I was a child watching the polar bears and riding on the elephant with the mahoot.

To the people of Cheshire the Mottershead family is synonymous with the world famous Chester Zoo – the pioneer of zoo’s without bars.  Reared in Chester Zoo traces the story of the development of Chester Zoo through the life of June Mottershead, younger daughter of George Mottershead, who conceived of and founded the Zoo in 1931.  Through June’s eyes and thoughts we understand how what most people at the time considered a crazy and intrusive idea, became a thriving reality.

Previous Books of the Month
November 2011 –The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers  by Cecil R. Humphery-Smith   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.

Genealogy Software

I noted over the past weeks a couple of software upgrades.  First is Louis Kessler’s Behold Genealogy program which has moved from Beta into Full Release.  You can try the program free for 45 days.  Louis is a genealogist who was unhappy with the commercial programs available, as they failed to provide data in the format he wanted, so he wrote his own!  I like the program using it as one of my secondary databases, however I guess it’s different approach will not suit everyone.

Next is RootsMagic which has moved on to Version 5.  I particularly like RootsMagic for its web building capability and the New FamilySearch support.  Again you can try the program before you buy, I would suggest this with all genealogy programs, pity there weren’t more choices when I started my research!  Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings has been putting the software through rigorous testing, so if you are interested stop over at his blog.
Family Tree Maker 2012
I mentioned this last months news, but the good news is that Amazon have now dropped the price to £29.99 – If you are looking for a Xmas present then the Platinum Edition is excellent value for money as it comes with 6 months PREMIUM membership to which would normally cost £77.  Family Tree Maker 2012 Platinum Edition (PC)
Probably my most exciting peice of news this month is that I have registered my TIMMINS surname with the Guild of One Name Studies.  I had been pondering this for some time but was gently coaxed into doing something about it by Carole Davies of STEERS ONS and  Slowly Being driven mad by the Ancestors.  Thanks Carole!

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 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 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 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