Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: Deceased Online

Happy Halloween! What better day to talk about www.deceasedonline.com, a UK website specializing in cemetery and burial records.  
As you might guess, I write my blog posts ahead in case something comes up or I’m scheduled to be out of town so I am writing what you are reading on Friday, 12 Oct 2012. Today, Dick Eastman (www.eogn.com), premier gen blogger, notes that Deceased Online has added new records for the Greenwich Cemetery, down river from London.

Some of the following information is from a Deceased Online news release. The addition completes this cemetery which has about 93,000 records covering 1856-2000. Many people buried here were associated with the military.

Other details about Greenwich Cemetery and the others covered by the site are available at the ‘database coverage’ area of
www.deceasedonline.com. You need to click on the lower right side of the home page. A list of records will appear, listed by the date they were added to the database. That is good for former or regular users of the site who just want to know what’s new. There is a drop down menu that lets you choose to see the list ‘By Name,’ that is alphabetically.

If you have ancestors in Greenwich, home of Greenwich Mean Time, you are lucky. Your chances of finding their burial information at this site is better than average because four of the five cemeteries and a crematorium are here with a total of over 400,000 records. They are anticipating that the fifth cemetery will go online soon. 

At this point in my posts I often go into detail about using a site, but I am going to refer you to the official Deceased Online blog at
http://deceasedonlineblog.blogspot.co.uk. When I first went to the site, the newest post was titled, ‘How to Find Your Ancestors in the Deceased Online Database.’ Just scroll down a little, if there are newer posts in the past two weeks. Please read this information and I will not reinvent the wheel. 

I will highlight these facts: you must register for the site but that is free; full details are not always free, and you will find a chart for buying credits, as is common on UK sites. I did a search for a fictitious Angus MacDonald and 45 possibilities appeared with burial dates, birth dates and cemetery names.

Note: I do have travel plans but hope not to disrupt my posts.

©2012, Susan Lewis Well

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: UK Jewish Records – Part Two

Luckily a place to start looking for online UK Jewish Records is the same site you have been using for your North American research. The massive site called jewishgen provides two ways to get to the same search screen to do a name search for an ancestor.  The first, www.jewishgen.org/database/uk, opens a screen whose heading says JCR-UK (Jewish Community Records-UK). Below are two data lists; one headed Jewishgen UK Data Base and the other called Jewish Genealogy Society of Great Britain.  From this page you can enter a name to search in all the databases listed.  The combined databases contain more than 220,000 records referring to individuals in the United Kingdom — England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Gibraltar, as well as the Republic of Ireland.” (Source: www.jewishgen.org, accessed 10 Oct 2012.) The second way to get to this search screen is www.jewishgen.org/jcr-uk. You are first taken to a home screen and need to click ‘search the database.’

Other parts of jewishgen are its family finder (JGFF) and Family Tree of the Jewish People which can be found at www.jewishgen.org/jgff and www.jewishgen.org/gedcom respectively. Family Finder is a list of surnames and towns around the world being researched by almost 50,000 genealogists. You can search for someone else’s research on your family or add your research to the Family Tree portion of the site. 
The International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies is heading up a cemetery project which has over 400,000 names in 22,000 cemeteries worldwide that you can find at www.iajgsjewishcemeteryproject.org.

The Jewish Genealogy Society of Great Britain offers other services besides their databases on jewishgen. Their home site is www.jgsgb.org where you will find membership information, regional Jewish genealogy groups to consult and publications to order. Their journal is called Shemot.
There is a site that specializes in UK Ashkenazi records, www.synagoguescribes.com.  “Synagogue Scribes offers a unique and fully searchable database of London Ashkenazi Synagogue records, with the emphasis on pre UK civil registration, which began on 1st July 1837.”

The Jewish Chronicle published since the 1840s has back issues at www.thejc.com. It has all the usual genealogical content: births, bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings, and obituaries. On the home page scroll down, until you find ‘our 170-year archive’ near the right side. Unfortunately, you can search once free and then you must subscribe to the print version. Since postal costs usually make me wary of subscribing to UK publications, you may want to explore this option more than I did. Perhaps they would be willing to give you access without mailing paper copies of the present day newspaper to you, saving you the postage costs.
©2012, Susan Lewis Well

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: UK Jewish Records-Part One

Every year, the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) sponsors a Jewish Genealogy Month which takes place during the Hebrew month of Cheshvan (17th October to 14th November 2012). It is probably not a coincidence that the Jewish Genealogy Society of Great Britain will hold its annual conference on Saturday, 28 October 2012, at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, Maida Vale, London. Clearly, it is the perfect time to talk about UK Jewish records.

The history of the Jewish people in the UK is long, complicated and at times, not very pretty. The records available today are affected by the community’s history. The first Jews came at the invitation of William, the Conqueror, who needed their financial expertise, but the Church put restrictions on their ability to earn a living in other ways, such as trade and agriculture. They were Sephardic Jews, who are from Spain, Portugal and other places in the Mediterranean area. Jews were expelled from England in 1290.
In the 1650s, Oliver Cromwell allowed Jews to return, and a small group of Sephardic Jews were allowed to lease a building for a synagogue and land for a cemetery in London. The congregation still exists and will host the annual conference mentioned above. A fascinating history of the Spanish and Portuguese community is found at www.sandp.org/history.html. For this group, records are written in Portuguese from 1657 to 1819 and then in English. The oldest, 1657 records are for burials.

Ashkenazi Jews from northern Europe spoke Yiddish and began arriving in the 17th century. There was some friction between the Sephardi and Ashkenazi who opened their first synagogue on Duke Street, London in 1690. Generally, they were poor but reasonably well educated when they arrived.  After 1880, new Ashkenazi immigrants settled in the east end of London and were the driving force in the clothing industry. Jews were in trade and established retail stores in many UK cities, not just London.
The records of the Ashkenazi community are usually handwritten in Hebrew using a person’s Hebrew name. Further complicating matters is the fact that the earlier arrivals were still using patronymic names, such as Rachel bat Ezra. However the records are ‘modern’ enough to make searching worth the effort.

North Americans are probably surprised to note the Sephardic community still intact today in the UK. We have an overwhelming number of Ashkenazi Jews on this side of the Atlantic. Now the Ashkenazim are the majority group in the UK as well.
©2012, Susan Lewis Well

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: British History Online

The new-to-me site with lots of background information is British History Online at www.british-history.ac.uk, which describes itself as a “digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles.” It is a collaboration between the Institute for Historical Research at the University of London and the History of Parliament Trust so it can boast that it has as a primary resource, “the texts of original documents, such as the Journals of the Houses of Commons and Lords, Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, and the Statutes of the Realm. “ This site was mentioned in 26 Sept post because it has digitized the Victoria County History and is strong in maps, gazetteers and dictionaries.

On the left side of the homepage, there are two lists so you can search by top sources and by region. The five top sources listed are - Local history, Historical geography, Urban & metropolitan, Parliamentary, and Ecclesiastical & religious. If you are like me, the location of counties are in England is a bit of a mystery to me. I know that Norfolk is one of the four counties included in the region known as East Anglia.  Therefore, I click on ‘East’ to find a list of resources from the four counties I expected plus Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.
The chart below comes from the website. Its strength is that a modern day Brit has divided the UK as he/she was taught in school so we see regions as a native would see regions. Its weakness is that the modern slang for the county names will challenge some of us.

East - The historic counties of Beds, Cambs, Essex, Herts, Hunts, Norfolk and Suffolk
London - The area now covered by the 32 London boroughs. Includes the historic county of Middlesex, and parts of Surrey, Essex and Kent

Midlands - The historic counties of Derbys, Hereford, Leics, Lincs, Northants, Notts, Rutland, Salop, Staffs, Warks and Worcs
North - The historic counties of Cheshire, Cumberland, Durham, Lancs, Northumberland, Westmorland and Yorks

Scotland - The 32 historic counties of Scotland.
South East - Includes the historic counties of Berks, Bucks, Hants, Kent, Oxfords, Surrey and Sussex. Parts of Surrey and Kent are included in the London region

South West - The historic counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucs, Somerset and Wilts
Wales - The 13 historic counties of Wales.

©2012, Susan Lewis Well

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: News from the FFHS

About a year ago (14 November 2011), I described the website of the Federation of Family History Societies at www.ffhs.org.uk.  That day I subscribed to the FFHS news feed which sends information from their 160 member societies about closings, new hours, and new addresses. What a great way to be in the know especially if you are going on a research trip to the UK. (Note that Scotland has its own Scottish Federation of Family History Societies at www.safhs.org.uk.)

I didn’t know how helpful this would be for travelers until I read a few of their email blasts. I quote below from just this week’s list of closures:

Pembrokeshire Record Office Move

The public search room is no longer available to visitors. 

The Pembrokeshire Record Office is on track to move in to its new home on the former site of Prendergast Junior School in Haverfordwest at the end of this year.

Work preparing for the move has been going on for several months in the background at the Record Office - based in Haverfordwest Castle - while maintaining a public service for historical research. ..

To facilitate the move it will be necessary to close the public search room to visitors temporarily from the early autumn.

It will be ready to open again to the public at the new site early in 2013….

During closure the office will respond to written and telephone enquiries in line with the County Council's policy on dealing with external communications. Any questions concerning the service and, in particular, the temporary closure of the public search room may be directed to:

The Pembrokeshire Record Office,
The Castle,
SA61 2EF.

Tel. 01437 763707; fax 01437 768539; E-mail record.office@pembrokeshire.gov.uk

Gwynedd Archives Service, Caernarfon Record Office, Caernarfon
will be closed from the 8th to the 15th October. Reopens Tuesday 16th.

Anglesey Archives, Llangefni will be closed for annual stocktake from Monday November 5 - Friday November 9, inclusive. The service will reopen as normal on Monday November 12, 2012.

Perhaps the most important news did not fall in the above category but dealt with changes to the National Archives website:
From this week, Discovery, our new catalogue, will become the primary way to search our collections.

We have now added more browse functionality to Discovery, which means that users can browse our collection by hierarchy or by reference, as requested by many of our users. For a more detailed explanation of using Discovery to browse our collection, read our
frequently asked questions.

We want to gather feedback on the new browse feature over the next couple of weeks before we decide when we can switch off the old Catalogue. We want to make sure it's as useful as it can be, so please try it out and let us know what you think - you can browse from any page of Discovery, including search results and descriptions. Please send your feedback to discovery@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk.

We will be switching off DocumentsOnline this weekend [29-30 September 2012], along with three other features on our website that have now been replaced by Discovery: Your Archives, Equity Pleadings Database and Person Search. We've integrated the digital document delivery service provided by DocumentsOnline into Discovery, making it easier for users to search our records and download digital copies (where available), all in one place. Discovery also features an image viewer, which means that users can see a low-resolution version of a document before paying to download it.
To get this news directly, go to www.ffha.org.uk and click the button on the right, second from the top. The first button allows you to subscribe to the FFHS Ezine which comes every two months. Older editions of the magazine can be read on the site.

©2012, Susan Lewis Well