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, January 29, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday – World War I Appeal Tribunal

Last week The British National Archives announced that they were posting World War I soldiers diaries to their site: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/first-world-war . They have the potential of being a fantastic genealogical resource, and there launch was widely reported by my fellow bloggers so I held off.   
On Thursday, 23 January, the Archives has announced that they are “making the digitized records the Middlesex Appeal Tribunal, which heard the cases of men seeking exemption from conscription into the army during the First World War, available online.”

The records of the Middlesex Appeal Tribunal include the cases of over 8,000 individuals, as well as administrative papers reflecting the changing policy towards conscription as the war progressed. “The records reveal men seeking exemption on medical, family or economic grounds, as well as the relatively small proportion wishing not to fight on moral grounds as conscientious objectors.”
The Middlesex Appeal Tribunal was one of the county-level appeal tribunals, part of a national system of tribunals that were established across the UK to hear applications from men seeking exemption from military service. The collection is one of two sets of appeal tribunal records officially retained as a benchmark following the end of the war, and provides a unique insight into the impact of the World War I on families, businesses and communities far from the battlefields. (Emphasis by this blogger)

Local and county appeal tribunal records also survive in many local archives, within personal and local government collections, and with the Federation of Family History Societies, The National Archives has begun a survey of surviving material in local collections.
Search the case papers through our First World War 100 web portal at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/first-world-war. Contact The National Archives with questions relating to the project or the records at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/contact/. Questions might be ‘What is the second place for which the Archives retained records?’ and ‘If they anticipate putting those records online later, when will it be?’

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Gazetteers of Scotland

Genealogy is an ever-changing field. Now we are not only concerned about the major events in our ancestors’ personal lives but in the history of their communities and their relationship to major national and international events.

A gazetteer describes places within a country or area, but not all of these reference books are equal. In 1846 and in a second edition in 1851, Samuel Lewis wrote A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, an alphabetical listing of the then 33 shires and all the parishes, villages and hamlets in the country. It is filled with facts, history and statistics. For example, here is part of the entry for Abercorn from his work:
“ABERCORN, a parish, in the county of Linlithgow, 5 ½ miles (E. by N.) from Linlithgow; containing the villages of Newtown and Philipstown, about 950 inhabitants. This place which derives its name from the situation at the influx of the small river Cornie into the Firth of Forth, is of very remote origin. Its ancient castle occupied the site of a Roman station between the wall of Antonine and the port of Cramond on the Firth, in the harbour of which the Romans moored their ships...”

The website www.visionofbritain.org.uk has a small map when you search for Abercorn that shows the villages of Newtown and Philipstown when you put 'Abercorn' in the search box on the home page.

Frank Smith condensed the information from Lewis’ book and added a few other sources in the 1970s for his book, A Genealogical Gazetteer of Scotland. His entries include the location and population of a village in 1851. In separate lists, he gives the years and locations of parish registers for Church of Scotland and non-conformist congregations. Here is the entire entry from the Genealogical Gazetteer:
 “ABERCORN parish 1585 Linlithgow 5 ½ m e Linlithgow pop 950 Free Church” (Smith, A Genealogical Gazetteer of Scotland, page 1)

The Free Church mentioned were a group that left the Church of Scotland in 1843 and had a congregation there, but according to Lewis, the Abercorn parish of the Church of Scotland had an ancient church which was enlarged in the mid-1500s. Now we might eagerly relish the details of the longer entries in the Lewis book.
Sometimes we want to know where a village is immediately and other times we want a slow stroll through the history of a place. It seems both books and the website have their uses.

Lewis, Samuel. A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Original issued in 1846, reprinted Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1989.

Smith, Frank. A Genealogical Gazetteer of Scotland. Logan, Utah: Everton Publishers, Inc., 1971.
Note: Frank Smith is the compiler of the two-volume set A Genealogical Gazetteer of England, Logan, Utah: Everton Publishers, Inc, 1977.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: The Great War Commemorations

World War I in Europe spanned the years from 1914 to 1919.  The commemorations of this muddy, lice-infested, entrenched war will begin this year – one hundred years later.  Special websites are appearing and established websites are announcing specific WWI projects. I will keep you posted as new sites and projects come to my attention.

One of the first new websites is a unique digital archive The Welsh Experience of the First World War (cymru1914.org). It has been developed as a collaborative initiative led by The National Library of Wales, in partnership with the Archives and Special Collections of Wales which itself includes the country’s major universities; BBC Cymru Wales; The People’s Collection, Wales; and archives and local records offices that are part of ARCW: the Archives and Records Council of Wales. 

The site is somewhat spare right now with no pictures but a search box that allows you to look within the entire collection or only one of the universities or archives.
If you don’t know if you have an ancestor in this war, you can consult the relatively new site www.forces-war-records.co.uk. Quite a bit of information is free, but more details require a subscription of one month for £8.95, three months for £25.95 and several longer choices.