Friday, 28 February 2020

British Newspaper Archives and FindMyPast go global

Sister companies British Newspaper Archives and FindMyPast have today announced a major development in their project to digitise the British Library's vast collection of historical newspapers.

It won't come as too much of a surprise for those who've noticed the recent additions of new titles covering British India and Canada, which comes only days after the online archive broke through the 36million pages mark from its 1,000+ titles covering England, Scotland, Wales (Britain) and Ireland.

The two companies share the full BNA holding via their subscription databases.

New titles will soon be joining the online archive from from Canada, India, Pakistan, Jamaica, and Barbados, allowing researchers to gain instant access to millions of articles in titles such as the Toronto Daily Mail, Hamilton Daily Times, Times of India, Calcutta Gazette, The Jamaica Mercury & Kingston Weekly Advertiser and more.

Making the announcement, Tamsin Todd, CEO of Findmypast, said; “We are delighted to be working with our partners at the British Library to welcome these new international titles to our collection. Newspapers supplement the facts of our family histories with rich stories – in them we might find a picture of the place an ancestor lived or worked, or what was happening in sports and politics and entertainment on the important days in their lives.

"With its new international reach, the British Newspaper Archive is becoming an ever more useful source for the social historian and family researcher alike."

Ancestry completes WWII Young Men's Draft Cards

And along comes another huge upload from Ancestry with equally huge potential for researchers with Irish emigrant ancestors: the final tranche of WWII Young Men's Draft Cards, 1940-47 have joined the database with records from Massachusetts, New York City, Ohio, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

It marks the completion of a multi-year project between Ancestry and the US National Archives & Records Administration, and more than 35 million records in this one collection to Ancesstry's database.

In number terms, it even tops yesterday's big announcement for New York BMDs (see blogpost).

The completed record set contains images and indexes for registration cards filled out by men born between the years of 1898 and 1929 from for all states with the exception of Maine (where the cards were destroyed before they could be digitised).

The cards are potentially valuable sources of genealogical and family information, with details that can include: Name; Serial Number; Address and/or Mailing Address; Telephone; Age; Birthplace; Country of Citizenship; Employer’s Name and place of employment; Name and Address of Person who will always know Registrant’s Address plus that person's Relationship to Registrant; Description: race, eyes, weight, complexion, hair; and Year of Registration.

Here's a sample draft card:

Some of the above content contains affiliate links. This means I may earn a small commission if you buy via these links. This does not affect the price you pay as a consumer, but it does contribute to keeping Irish Genealogy News online. See Advertising Disclosure tab above.

Ballymoney title joins online British Newspaper Archive latest Irish publication to join the online BritishNewspaperArchive (BNA) is the Ballymoney Free Press and Northern Counties Advertiser.

This title was first published, in Ballymoney, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, in January 1870.

So far, none of the earlier editions have been uploaded to the archive, but the holding will eventually span 1870 to 1934.

In the meantime, some 2,450 editions have been uploaded to the BNA database, all dating (with gaps) from 1918 to 1934.

As always, the BNA's holding is shared with sister company FindMyPast's Irish Newspaper Collection.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Ancestry uploads detailed BMD indexes for New York

Ancestry has added three BMD Indexes for New York to its collection, and they're going to be very useful to those with Irish emigrants in their family. Although 'only' indexes, the level of detail provided for each entry is a genealogical delight. See the image below, from the death index. Who needs the certificate?

Collectively, these three record sets hold more than 14million entries. Ancestry has provided good information about the resources, dates of coverage and geographical coverage, and how to obtain certifiates.

These are the record sets:

Births index 1866-1909

Marriage licenses 1908-1910, 1938-1940

Deaths Index to death certificates, 1862-1948

Some of the above content contains affiliate links. This means I may earn a small commission if you buy via these links. This does not affect the price you pay as a consumer, but it does contribute to keeping Irish Genealogy News online. See Advertising Disclosure tab above.

First ever National Library Open Day this weekend

This Saturday, 29 February, Irish libraries are taking part in the first ever National Library Open Day.

Most libraries in the Republic are open on Saturdays, of course, but this weekend's event extends a special invitation to everyone in the country to drop in and see everything that’s on offer in town and county branches.

In addition to showing visitors all the clubs, classes and activities happening in these important community spaces, Library staff will be giving demos of their online digital collections; their free access to commercial genealogy and Irish Newspaper Archives; and their ebook, audio book, and language-learning services.

Some libraries will be setting out their stall with information desks or scheduled talks on how to start a family history or local history project, others on their growing digital resources that can aid such research.

A number of libraries have particular themes to their Open Day, while others have a wider spread of activities. You can check them out via this LibrariesIreland download, or contact your local branch direct.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Spring edition of Irish Roots Magazine published Spring edition of Irish Roots Magazine, Ireland's only independent genealogy publication, has been published and is now available in both digital and hard-copy formats.

As always, it's packed with Irish family history guidance and insight from expert contributors including professional genealogists, academic historians, and archivists.

In addition to the regular features – news from around the family history societies, Q&A (with Nicola Morris MAGI), Readers' letters, latest books, comment and observations from the genealogy world (with Steven Smyrl FIGRS MAGI), and my own What's New Review with a summary of record releases and other developments in Irish family history – the following articles are included in this quarter's packed issue:

* PRONI's newly digitised records, by Josh Lambert
* Australian Irish connections, by Jennifer Harrison
* St Patrick's Day traditions in Ireland, by Marion McGarry
* Dating Family Photographs, 1900–1930, by Jane Shrimpton
* Tracing your County Wexford ancestors, by James G Ryan
* Researching your Irish clan, by Dr Maurice Gleeson
* Captains and convicts uncovered at Spike Island, by John Crotty
* Maps of the Escheated counties of Ireland, 1609, by Deirdre Wildy
* Same name, different person... a conundrum solved by reader Bob Fitzsimons

To find out more about Irish Roots Magazine, click the cover image above. You'll find there's a free sample of this edition ready for you to download, too.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Irish genealogy & history events, 24 February - 8 March

Tuesday 25 February: Treating shellshock and severed limbs: WWI veterans at Leopardstown & Blackrock hospitals, with Dr Eoin Kinsella. Host and venue: National Archives of Ireland, Bishop Street, Dublin 8. Free. No booking required. All welcome. 6pm. Cancelled.

Tuesday 25 February: A Beginner’s guide to using DNA in Family History, with NIFHS Martin McDowell. Host and venue: Ballymena Central library, 5 Pat's Brae, Ballymena, BT43 5AX. 11am. Free. Phone 028 2544 2428 or email to book.

Tuesday 25 February: Music, Temperance and Bands: Limerick and Kilrush, 1830-1890, with Dr Derek Mulcahy. Host: The Kilrush and District Historical Society. Venue: Teach Ceoil, Grace Street, Kilrush, Co Clare. 8pm. All welcome. Members, free. Non-members €5 on the door. Postponed due to weather.

Tuesday 25 February: Protestant and Irish post-Independence - Tango or Tangent? with Dr Ida Milne and Ian d'Alton. Kilkenny Home Rule Club, John's Quay, Kilkenny. 8:30pm. Admission €5. Refreshments served. All are welcome.

Wednesday 26 February: The foundation of St Micheal's Hospital, Dún Laoghaire, with Tom Conlon. Host: Old Dublin Society. Venue: Dublin City Library & Archive, Pearse Street, Dublin 2. 6pm. All welcome. Free.

Thursday 27 February: "Hall and Tent" - Entertaining West Cork 1920-1970, with Carmel Flahavan. Host: Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage. Venue: The Parish Centre, Western Road, Clonakilty, Co Cork. 8pm. All welcome.

Thursday 27 February: Finding medieval Stradbally, with Dave Pollock. Host: Part of the Dunhill History Lecture Series XIV. Venue: Dunhill Multi-Education Centre (opposite the GAA grounds), Dunhill, Co Waterford. 8pm. Followed by a Q&A and light refreshments.

Monday 2 March: Emigration from the Foyle by Sail and Steam, with Brian Mitchell. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society, Foyle branch. Venue: Lecture Room of Derry City’s Central Library, 35 Foyle Street, Londonderry, BT48 6AL. All welcome. Free. 7pm.

Monday 2 March: Titanic Task – Tracing Crossgar’s Titanic Victim, with Maureen McKinney. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society, Killyleagh branch. Venue: Killyleagh Masonic Hall, 50 High Street, Killyleagh, Co Down, BT30 9QF. Free. All welcome. 8pm.

Tuesday 3 March: Emigration from North West Ulster, with Dr Paddy Fitzgerald. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society, Tyrone branch. Venue: Omagh Library, 1 Spillars Place,, Irishtown Road, Omagh BT78 1HL. 7:30pm. All welcome.

Wednesday 4 March: Rebellious women in the National Library: Archival collections of women in Irish politics, ca 1870-1918, with Ciara Stewart. This lunchtime talk marks International Women’s Day (on 8 March). Host and venue: National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. 1:05pm. Booking not required. All welcome!

Wednesday 4 March: The Incredible Untold Story of Mary Elms, the Irish Oskar Schindler, with Clodagh Finn. Host: Cill Dara Historical Society. Venue: Áras Bhríde (Parish Centre), Bride Street, Kildare Town. Refreshments served from 7:30pm; talk begins at 8pm.

Thursday 5 March: Get the steam up! (The life of a railway fireman), with Nigel Porter. Poyntzpass and District Local History Society. Venue: Meeting Place, Poyntzpass Community Centre, Church Street, Poyntzpass, Co Armagh. Details. 8pm. All welcome.

Thursday 5 March: Thomas Meagher (1789?-1874): the forgotten father of Thomas Francis Meagher, with Eugene Broderick. Host: Part of the Dunhill History Lecture Series XIV. Venue: Dunhill Multi-Education Centre (opposite the GAA grounds), Dunhill, Co Waterford. 8pm. Followed by a Q&A and light refreshments.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Data Protection Commission to investigate Catholic registers

Ireland's Commissioner of Data Protection, Helen Dixon, published the DPC's Annual Report for 2019 yesterday. On page 48 there's a list of 'Ongoing Inquiries' including one regarding the Catholic Church and the personal data it holds in its registers of baptism and other rites.

On my first reading of that summary, alarm bells starting ringing. Could new restrictions be on the way for Irish genealogists?

Hopefully not. The reason for the investigation is really nothing to do with public access or the value of records for their genealogical information. As you can see below from the published summary of this case, it has been brought following complaints from a number of ex-Catholics that the Church will not delete records of their baptisms; they are looking for these records to be deleted because there is no formal way to leave the Church or renounce their religion.

I remember many, many years ago, feeling the same way. I was furious – well, a bit narked... I didn't care enough to pursue it with vigour – that the church was happy to perform a joining ritual without my consent as a baby but was not prepared to formally rubber-stamp a decision I chose to take as an adult. Where I don't agree with the current complainants is in expecting the baptism to be deleted from the records; the register is merely a log of the baptisms performed in a particular building or parish, and my baptism, like that of every other baby noted on the pages, was, if nothing else, a historical fact.

Not only that, but the integrity of these historical documents must be protected.

Here's the DPC's summary of the case:

So for now, the DPC looks likely to be examining Catholic records in the course of its investigation into whether the church is legally obliged to delete personal data of people seeking to leave Catholicism. This will hang on whether the records are maintained by systems that are regulated by data protection laws.

Let's hope they stick to that narrow remit, and don't start poking their noses where they're not wanted.

The Irish Times has also reported on this issue.

Two-week summary of new and updated US collections

Below is a summary of US family history collections that have been either newly released or updated by the major genealogy databases during the last two weeks. (The last listing was published on 7 February, see blogpost).

My regular summaries are designed to help family historians whose Irish ancestors emigrated, temporarily or permanently, to the United States. By default, they should also be useful to anyone carrying out research in the US, regardless of the origin of their ancestors.

The figures in parenthesis in the New Collections section are the numbers of records/images in each new record set. Please note that I have omitted updates of fewer than 1,000 records to any one record-set.

Unless otherwise stated, the figures in parenthesis in the Updated Collections section reflect the number of records added to the collection in the recent update, if a number has been clearly noted by the supplier.


      * St. Agnes in Arlington
      * St. Edward in Brockton


Family Search




Family Search


Some of the above content contains affiliate links. This means I may earn a small commission if you buy via these links. This does not affect the price you pay as a consumer, but it does contribute to keeping Irish Genealogy News online. See Advertising Disclosure tab above.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Genetic Genealogy Ireland recordings online at Legacy

A collection of 15 lectures recorded at last year's Genetic Genealogy Ireland conferences in Belfast and Dublin are now available to view online in the Legacy Family Tree Webinar Library.

The presentations feature top international genetic genealogists on the latest developments in genetic genealogy with a special focus on their application to Irish genealogy.

They include:
  • Using GenomeMate Pro & other tools, with Michelle Leonard
  • Irish genealogies & DNA: Back into the mythological past, with Bart Jaski
  • Exploring new y-DNA horizons with Big Y-700, with Iaian McDonald
  • Irish genealogy 'Down Under', with Michelle Patient
  • The DNA journey: Perspectives from Irish adoptees with Dolores Quinlan
  • An Irish-Ukrainian case study, with Regina Negrycz
  • Did the Irish bring rare mtDNA to Newfoundland? with David Pike
  • The tools at DNAgedcom & Genetic.Family, with Rob Warthen & John Collins
  • Managing your DNA matches, with Donna Rutherford
  • DNA successes of a non-DNA expert, with Alan Rosborough
  • Using Y-DNA testing to investigate Ulster and Scottish surnames, with John Cleary
  • DNA testing for complete beginners, with Debbie Kennett
  • Why testing at Ancestry is not enough, with Martin McDowell
  • Do you have the DNA of a Scottish clan? with Alasdair Macdonald
  • Canadian Casualty Identification Program - Using databases to connect families to their lost soldiers, with Mags Gaulden
The annual two- or three-day Genetic Genealogy Ireland conference (GGI) has been running since 2013 in Dublin. Hosted by Maurice Gleeson, it consists of two- or three-days of DNA lectures from leading genetic genealogists in Ireland, the UK and the rest of the world. In 2018, a second GGI series was started in Belfast.

Up to now, video recordings from GGI have been made available free of charge on You Tube (you can access the 2013-2018 GGI videos here). The move to the Legacy Family Tree Webinar platform comes with a price tag, albeit a reasonable one. Annual membership costs US$49.95, and provides access not only to the GGI lectures, but all recorded webinars in the Legacy FTW Library.

Find out more at Legacy Family Tree Webinars.