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Library and Archives Canada (LAC) announced yesterday the launch of Digitizing Canadian Collections, a one-time funding call offered by the National Heritage Digitization Strategy (NHDS) to digitize documentary heritage material of national significance. Successful projects can receive up to $100,000.

Thanks to a generous gift to NHDS from a private donor, this is a one-time opportunity to provide funds to organizations to digitize, make accessible, and preserve documentary heritage material of national significance.

LAC is the lead institution for administering the NHDS funding call.

Eligible applicants include public and private libraries, archives, historical and genealogical organizations, universities and colleges, archival and library associations, museums and institutions with an archival component, Indigenous organizations, and provincial/territorial and municipal government institutions.

To be eligible,  projects must:

  • Focus on digitizing analogue documentary heritage collections of national significance, while also addressing access and the preservation of the digitized objects.
  • Include content by or about Canadians.
  • Follow digitization, preservation and metadata best practices.
  • Agree to place metadata in the public domain and make the digitized objects publically accessible, within ethical, cultural and legal constraints.

The deadline to apply is June 12th, 2018. Projects need to be completed by August 31, 2019.

The funding guidelines are on the NHDS website.

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To celebrate the launch of Family History Week, the Guild of One-Name Studies has opened its recorded webinars to non-members until April 22.

Five webinars are available:
What We Do: An Introduction to One-Name Studies & the Guild — Peggy Chapman, Paul Featherstone, Julie Goucher, Karen Rogers and Tessa Keough
The Joy of Surnames — Debbie Kennett
Gathering Data: Where to Look and Where to Put It — Paul Featherstone and Paul Howes
Now What? Do Something With Your Data — Howard Mathieson
Using DNA With Your One-Name Study — Maurice Gleeson

The Guild of One-Name Studies began offering monthly webinars this year on the third Tuesday of the month. These webinars are available to non-members to listen live and for one week after the event, before becoming a members benefit.

View the recorded webinars on the Guild’s website.

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Library and Archives Canada (LAC) invites everyone to transcribe, tag, translate and describe their digitized records, using the tool, Co-Lab.

LAC said, “Imagine transcribing handwritten letters like the one that Louis Riel wrote the day before his death to his wife and children, asking her ‘to make them pray for me.’ Canadians can help to unveil a great part of their history by using Co-Lab.”

Here’s how it works.

Take on a “challenge”
Choose a “challenge” to participate in. Explore a collection of images under the same theme. For example, you could explore all pages and photographs from Rosemary Gilliat Eaton’s diary about her trip to the Arctic. Every time you add a keyword to an image, the discoverability of the collection is enhanced. LAC will keep on adding new challenges, so let them know what you want to work on.

Open pictures
JPEG-format images in LAC’s collection are now open for you to add searchable keywords, add descriptions, and transcribe and translate content. Use the new harmonized viewer in our Collection SearchBETA to start contributing.

Create your profile
Take a couple of minutes to create your online profile. It is easy to use, and you will be able to track your contribution history.

Tutorial
Use LAC’s tutorial and start contributing, following a few short and easy steps. It will guide you through all of the features so you can become a contributor.

Increase searchability
You just contributed to an image? It will be soon be searchable through LAC’s Collection SearchBETA, making their unique collection more available to people around the world. You will find all search results with public contributions under the Co-Lab Content tab.

Try Co-Lab now, and tell LAC what you think.

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This is a story about France, but like most genealogy stories, it affects family historians around the world.

If you live in France and want to test your DNA for genealogy research, you must order a kit from outside the country. You cannot order it from an address in France because it is illegal to sell DNA kits there. That however, may change if Geneanet has its way.

The French genealogy website Geneanet has joined the campaign to resurrect the debate about changing the “law on bioethics” in its home country. A new bioethical law is being prepared, and Genenet sees this as an opportunity to amend the law so that genealogists can take DNA tests.

Geneanet is encouraging people to sign two petitions to change the law that bans the use of DNA tests for “recreational” purposes, including genealogical research.

In a newsletter sent to its subscribers at the beginning of April, Geneanet said, in French, “We are campaigning for a modification in the law that will include ethical safeguards to avoid abuses.”

Online petitions
Geneanet asks people to go to the website of the Etats généraux de la bioéthique before April 30, 2018 to sign the petition for a change in the current law.

Guillaume de Morant also created a petition last June on Change.org that is directed at members of the National Assembly and senators. Geneanet encourages people to sign this one as well. The name of Mr. de Morant’s petition speaks for itself: Autorisez l’ADN généalogique! (Authorize genealogical DNA!)

The title of this petition is, in French, “Change the too restrictive law that bans DNA recreational use.”

Mr. de Morant is asking the French government to “authorize DNA tests for genealogical and recreational purposes.” He writes in the petition, “In 2011, when the law on bioethics was passed, parliamentarians could not have guessed what would happen with DNA testing. … We now use DNA as a hobby. … It is useless to ban these tests. The tide has already turned. Every year, about 100,000 French citizens order DNA kits from other countries.”

DNA tests are illegal
DNA tests for genealogy have been illegal in France since the law of bioethics was passed in 1994. Tests to determine ethnicity or medical conditions are also prohibited.

The law was passed before the advent of genetic genealogy that uses DNA to discover one’s origin and to connect with cousins ​​who tested their DNA.

DNA tests in France can now only be conducted for three reasons: medical research, research for the treatment of rare diseases, and a judicial inquiry.

Personal paternity tests are also illegal in France. French authorities believe that paternity testing can cause friction within families.

In an article written in 2012 on The French Genealogy Blog, Anne Morddel explained why some people in France were concerned about DNA tests. She wrote, “Recall that we are in the region where people lived under the Nazi horrors and the thinking here is that genetic testing can edge mighty close to racial testing and the creation of a mass of data about citizens’ racial backgrounds could lead to the same old trouble.”

DNA testing companies
Ancestry, 23andme, FamilyTreeDNA, IGenea and, since the beginning of April, MyHeritage ship DNA kits to France, and they make no secret about it.

MyHeritage founder Gilad Japhet told the French magazine, La revue française de Généalogie, DNA kits for the purpose of genealogy and ethnicity have become one of the most popular consumer products in the United States and around the world.

Mr. Japhet said, “We are responding to a real demand in France, with a high quality product in French that makes it easier to access DNA results and find matches to other people and family members who have immigrated to the United States, Quebec, and other parts of the world during the last centuries.”

Commenting on the legal issue, Mr. Japhet said, “We are an Israeli company and our DNA laboratory is located in the US. If there is a negative reaction from the French authorities, we will comply, but we are optimistic.”

If the law is revised, this will be good news for genealogists, especially those in Canada and the United States who want to trace their French Canadian, Acadian, Cajun, and French Huguenot roots back to France.

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Today, Tuesday, April 17, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Legacy Family Tree and the Board for Certification of Genealogists will present a free webinar, Better Together: Making Your Case with Documents and DNA, delivered by Patti Lee Hobbs.

The genealogical proof standard requires reasonably exhaustive research in solving ancestral-identity problems. DNA evidence is now often part of that research. Even the best DNA evidence must be combined with some traditional research. Ms. Hobbs will show different ways that genealogical problems have been solved by integrating DNA evidence with the paper trail.

Register here to watch the webinar live. The recorded version will be available to watch for free for up to about seven days.

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RootsTech recently posted a new video recording of a presentation, delivered at the conference in February, that was not part of the live streaming.

In You’ve Taken a DNA Test, Now What?, Angie Bush talks about how autosomal DNA testing has changed the face of genealogical research. She provides a quick overview of how to review genetic information and how DNA goes hand-in-hand with traditional research to answer questions of kinship and identity.

Two of the takeaways in her presentation, which are not always mentioned in other talks, is the importance of completing an online profile and adding a family tree, even just a skeleton one, to every DNA test on every company site.

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File by file, the archivists at Library and Archives Canada are digitizing the First World War Canadian Expeditionary Force service files, and many are thrilled they are doing so.

As of yesterday, they had digitized and posted online 581,553 of 640,000 files — just over 90 percent — in the Personnel Records of the First World War database.

Digitizing the files in chronological order, for the most part, they have reached the surname Vennables.

According to John D. Reid in a recent blog post, there are more files than originally thought. He said files for about 30 additional soldiers have been found and that the number, 640,000, may be closer to 642,000.

Despite this, LAC plans to finish digitizing all WWI service files in time for the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI in November 2018.

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National Volunteer Week is a time to celebrate and thank Canada’s 12.7 million volunteers and the more than 62 million volunteers in the United States. From April 15 to 21, both countries are recognizing the contributions of volunteers in their communities.

In Canada, this year’s theme is Celebrate the Value of Volunteering – building confidence, competence, connections and community.

In the US, the theme is Celebrate Service.

As genealogists, we all benefit from the work of volunteers, whether they be people who donate their time for a genealogical society, at an archival centre, museum, or event, or transcribe headstone inscriptions and online records.

The next time we see a volunteer, let’s remember to thank them.

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This month’s Guild of One-Name Studies webinar is Using DNA With Your One-Name Study, presented by Maurice Gleeson, on Tuesday, April 17, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Dr. Gleeson will focus on a Y-DNA Project and how it can be a very useful addition to a one-name study or surname research. His “substantial handout” will only be available to Guild members and those who attend the webinar live.

Dr. Gleeson is education ambassador for ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy), a member of the APG, and organiser of Genetic Genealogy Ireland (the annual national conference on DNA & genealogy). He was born in Dublin where he trained as a medical doctor. He is currently a psychiatrist, a pharmaceutical physician, and a part-time actor, as well as a genetic genealogist.

Register here to watch the webinar live. Biographical details here. As with previous webinars, non-members will likely be able to watch the recording for a month. After that, it will be available to Guild members only.

My Gleeson giggle
I have a little Maurice Gleeson story about the first time I met him two years ago at the Ontario Genealogical Society conference in Toronto. I was scheduled to deliver a presentation in the same room immediately after he spoke.

While Dr. Gleeson was packing up his stuff and I was setting up my computer and PowerPoint presentation, I mentioned something to him about not having any patience.

His eyes lit up. “You’re a doctor?,” he asked. “No,” I said. “I am impatient with technology not working properly.”

I’d swear Dr. Gleeson looked disappointed at my response about not being a doctor with patients. As our conversation ended almost as soon as it began, he turned to answer someone’s question. That was my brief, albeit funny, encounter with the well-known genetic genealogist.

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Some of the bijoux I discovered this week.

Blogs
Finding Your Ancestors in Quebec by Penny Allen on UK to Canada Genealogy.

Introducing The Australian Women’s Register by Shauna Hicks on The In-Depth Genealogist.

List of Church of Ireland Parish Registers updated by Claire Santry on Irish Genealogy News.

Using FamilySearch genealogies for your family history by Linda Elliott on Mad About Genealogy.

5 Secrets for Searching Old Digitized Newspapers by Kenneth R. Marks on The Ancestor Hunt.

The Old Bailey Online: A Research Tool by Barbara J. Starmans on Out of My Tree Genealogy.

Friend of my soul, farewell to thee! The death of Thomas D’Arcy McGee on The Archivist’s Pencil.

“The Historians Versus the Genealogists.” Really? by Amy Johnson Crow on Amy Johnson Crow.

Why the past doesn’t define you but it’s still part of your story by Laura Hedgecock on Treasure Chest of Memories.

4 Unique Family Tree Templates for Genealogy, Craft or School Projects by Kate Jackson on Family History Daily.

Give Your Photos, Stories by Devon Noel Lee on Family History Fanatics.

Searching For a Hidden Cemetery by Patricia Gerber on My Genealogy Life.

Time to paint by Judy G. Russell on The Legal Genealogist.

How I Got My MISSING AncestryDNA Circles Back by Cathy Meder-Demsey on Opening Doors in Brick Walls.

Articles
New book looks at the social history of Southwestern Ontario, CBC News, London, Ontario.

Two grave markers from historic black cemetery at centre of modern dispute by Dale Molnar, CBC News, Windsor, Ontario.

Canadian discovers secret about slave roots by Paul Johnston, Royal Gazette, Bermuda.

‘Hidden histories’ of old Maine churches to be digitized, added to New England archives by Mark Pratt, Bangor (Maine) Daily News.

For more gems like these throughout the week, join the Genealogy à la carte Facebook group. When you submit your request to join, you will be asked to answer two questions about your family history research.

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