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Monday, 14 September 2009

Irish 1911 Census goes Online

The 1911 Census for Ireland is now available online. The census, with a free search facility, is available on the Irish National Archives website, and covers all 32 Counties

Amateur genealogists can search by name, surname, age, sex and place, for their family history.

It is the first time that such information, which includes the images of the original "filled out" census forms, has been put online.

"We have decided to make the material immediately available, in the knowledge that the vast majority of our users will be able to find what they want," the National Archives say.

"Corrections and improvements will be ongoing, and we are very grateful to all users who have submitted corrections to us."

Released two years early, the census of April 1911, was the last census completed until 1926 and offers a unique insight into an Ireland from long ago.

The forms show an Ireland divided into type of resident, -- boarder, visitor or family -- as well as religion, literacy, professional, marital status, Irish language ability and children.

A snapshot of Dublin themes, in 1911, reveals:

* Poverty and Health: inner city tenements were "filthy, overcrowded, disease-ridden and teeming with malnourished children."
* In the suburbs: "The 19th Century saw a steady move to suburbs such as Rathmines, Monkstown and Blackrock by many wealthy Dubliners."
* City Transport: "There were 330 trams operating on lines which ran for 60 miles along the city's roads, drawing the suburbs tightly to the city."
* Religion: "In 1911 the city was 83pc Catholic, 13pc Church of Ireland, 2pc Presbyterian and Methodist and 2pc others, including a growing Jewish presence."
* Law and Order: "In 1910 there were 2,462 charges of drunkenness in the Dublin Metropolitan police district, while 3,758 people were drunk when they were taken into custody."

The census form for Ireland, unlike that in Britain, included a question asking the religion of every person in the household.

Irish people were also asked whether they could 'read and write', 'read only', or 'cannot read'.

Such a question was not asked in Britain and, as one Irish newspaper noted, "why it should be so is not easy to understand".

The Republic's National Archives hope to get the 1901 census online between late this year and early 2010.

The census is available on

Monday, 31 August 2009

Using Google Picasa Web Albums for your Genealogy

Do you use Picasa Web Albums for storing your family history and genealogy photos and pictures online. Well I was browsing on YouTube and came across this great video which will show you just what you can do on Picasa to help organise them (there's more than you may think :-). The video is by genealogyscrounge and I recommend his YouTube Channel which has loads of other helpful genealogy related videos.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

War records of 250,000 medieval soldiers go online

The service records of medieval soldiers have been made available in a new online database.

The website contains 250,000 service records of soldiers who fought in the Hundred Years War between 1369 and 1453.

It includes the names of archers who served with Henry V at Agincourt, meaning you could see if any of your relatives helped rout the French in the famous 1415 battle.

The Medieval Soldier Database contains full profiles of individual soldiers, with muster roll evidence allowing researchers to piece together details of soldiers’ lives.

Dr Adrian Bell of the University of Reading, who undertook the research project with Professor Anne Curry of the University of Southampton, said: ‘The service records survive because the English exchequer had a very modern obsession with wanting to be sure that the government’s money was being spent as intended.

‘Therefore we have the remarkable survival of indentures for service detailing the forces to be raised, muster rolls showing this service and naming every soldier from duke to archer.

"There are accounts from the captains demonstrating how the money had been spent, and entries showing when the exchequer made the requested payments.’

The database, which shows which campaigns soldiers fought in, and other details including what they were paid, how often they were off work sick, who rode the furthest and who was knighted.

The youngest soldier on the records is Thomas, Lord Despencer, whose career began when he was 12 years old in 1385.

Thomas Gloucestre, who fought at Agincourt, is also included on the database, and his career can be traced over 43 years and includes campaigns in Prussia and Jerusalem.

The records also show that social mobility was possible, as in the case of Robert de Fishlake, who enlisted at the age of 16 in 1378 and progressed from being an archer to a man-at-arms.

The project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Use the database free at

Saturday, 28 February 2009

The Irish Famine 1845 - 1850

To continue the Irish theme from last week's post on Irish genealogy, I thought that this week I'd write about the Irish Famine. I have a particular interest in this because my own Irish family came from Skibbereen in West Cork, one of the worst affected areas. I've visited the family History centre there and seen the exhibition on the famine, which is an incredibly moving experience, and I have visited the Abbeystrowry graveyard where there are 9,000 people buried in the famine grave pits. I was also lucky enough to be able to find the house on Bridge Street where my great grandfather was a shoemaker, he was born in 1844, the year before the famine started in 1845.

The Famine started in September 1845 when blight was first noted in Wexford and Waterford. By November half the potato crop was ruined. The British Conservative Prime Minister Robert Peel, immediately recognizing that the circumstances in Ireland meant that this crop failure could cause famine, ordered corn and meal to be sent from the United States and a Relief Commission set up. Food aid had to be bought at market prices, a requirement which meant that the aid itself was less than fully effective since many poor Irish had no money at all and employment on Relief Works was not always immediately available.

The first deaths from hunger took place in the spring of 1846. The new Whig administration under Lord Russell, influenced by their laissez-faire belief that the market would provide the food needed, then halted government food and relief works leaving many hundreds of thousands of people without any work, money or food. Grain continued to be exported from the country. Private initiatives such as The Central Relief Committee of the Society of Friends (the Quakers) attempted to fill the gap caused by the end of government relief and eventually the government reinstated the relief works, although bureaucracy made food supplies slow to be released. Grain continued to be exported from the country. The blight almost totally destroyed the 1846 crop and the Famine worsened considerably. By December a third of a million destitute people were employed in public works such as road making.

1847's exceptionally hard winter made conditions even worse. A typhus epidemic killed tens of thousands, including wealthier people as the towns were now also affected. 1847's harvest was largely unaffected by blight but too few potatoes had been planted so the Famine continued unabated. The Soup Kitchens Act provided financial assistance to local authorities to help them feed Famine victims but this Act was withdrawn in September and relief was made the responsibility of local Poor Unions and of charitable organizations. This put impossible loads on local Poor Unions, particularly in the rural west and south. Emigration reached new heights and the infamous coffin-ships crossed the Atlantic in large numbers carrying people fleeing from the famine.

The blight returned in 1848 and outbreaks of cholera were reported. Evictions became common and Famine victims on outdoor relief peaked in July at almost 840,000 people. A doomed uprising against the government was led by William Smith O'Brien. The potato crop failed again in 1849 and famine was accompanied by cholera outbreaks.

In 1850 the potato crop was okay and the Famine mostly ended. By 1851 Census figures showed that the population of Ireland had fallen to 6,575,000 - a drop of 1,600,000 in ten years. The famine left in its wake perhaps up to a million dead and another million emigrated. The famine caused a sense of lasting bitterness by the Irish towards the British government, whom many blamed — then and now — for the starvation of so many people. The fall-out of the famine continued for decades afterwards and Ireland's population still has not recovered to pre-famine levels.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Irish Genealogy

We are rapidly approaching the great Irish holiday of St Patricks Day on the 17th March, when the world goes green! I thought therefore that this would be a good time to do a post specifically on Irish genealogy for all those with roots in the Emerald Isle.

Unfortunately researching your Irish roots is not easy because a lot of records went up in smoke during the Civil War in 1922, where they were kept in the Public Record Office in Dublin. These included most of the Census records and BMD records. Happily most of the Roman Catholic parish registers were retained by the parish churches and although up to now have proved difficult to access, more and more registers and others records are now starting to be digitised and available online.

The GRO (General Register Office) for Ireland has a very good history of registration and records in Ireland HERE. The details of whats available at the GRO is HERE and their fees, payment methods (they have no online facility yet) and regional offices can be found HERE.

To aid your own research I've listed below the best websites & sources I've come across in my search for my own Irish family roots.

Irish Genealogy Links Lists:-

CYNDI'S LIST (the biggest & the best)

Other useful sites

IRISH GENEALOGY (Good guide to where to find records)
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES (Good introduction to Irish genealogy)
GENUKI-Ireland (Huge online genealogy resource)
ROOTSWEB MAILING LIST from here you can subscribe to the mailing list and browse or search the index for your ancestors surname and/or place of birth.
FAILTE ROMHAT (Griffiths Valuation page, but also check out the blue website index strip near top of page as it has many links to transcripts of census, directories, cemeteries etc.)

At the FAMILY SEARCH website you can search for your ancestors name or just a surname, which will throw up Irish records from the 1880 US Census, 1881 British & Canadian Census's, Pedigree Resource files & Ancestral Files as well as the IGI (International Genealogical Index).

It's also possible to search the IGI by Irish County/Parish at Hugh Wallis's searchable website of IGI batches HERE

The new Family Search PILOT SITE now has the Irish Civil Registration Indexes from 1845 to 1958 online.

Records for Passengers Who Arrived at the Port of New York During the Irish Famine, 1/12/1846 - 12/31/1851 - SEARCHABLE DATABASE

CASTLE CLINTON IMMIGRATION CENTRE offers free access to an extraordinary searchable database of information on 10 million immigrants to the USA. from 1830 through 1892, the year Ellis Island opened.

ELLIS ISLAND Passenger Lists 1892- 1924 - Search for your Irish ancestors as they arrive in New York.

Records of Irish Convicts & Rebels transported to New South Wales, Australia - SEARCHABLE DATABASE

Was your ancestor a CONVICT? (Not just Irish, includes links to Old Bailey records etc)


Subscription Sites:-

The following are very good sites for searchable databases where you can do free searches but will have to subscribe to view the actual detailed records.

(Northern Ireland & Ulster)

Useful Blogs & Websites:-

The following list is of blogs & websites run by people researching their own Irish genealogy, but which contain useful general information for Irish researchers.


Books for Irish family historians (link to

Collins Tracing Your Irish Family History, by Anthony Adolph and Ryan Tubridy

Tracing Your Irish Ancestors, by John Grenham

How to Trace Your Irish Ancestors, by Ian Maxwell

Finding Your Irish Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide, by David S Ouimette

I hope you find the above useful in kick starting your Irish research and I'll probably be making further additions to these lists over the coming months, so keep checking back.

Greek Genealogy

Someone asked me about Greek genealogy today, so I thought I'd post what I've been able to find. So here we have what I consider are the best places for links to Greek Genealogy websites -

also you could try Family Search as they have Greece listed. Don't know what sort of records they have, but worth a try, just choose Greece in the Country option & enter your ancestors surname.

The following are also very good sites specific to Greek genealogy.

Try Dimitri's Name Database to get an idea of which region your ancestor came from at

Another great site I have been advised of is at

This has:-

- Growing number of Data Records on Greeks in Greece and Diaspora countries, including United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Greece, Asia Minor, Turkey, Cyprus, Russia, Odessa, Ethiopia, Egypt plus more
- Links to Greek Records microfilmed and available through LDS Family History Library
- 260+ links to help you with your Greek genealogy research
- Greece Gazetteer – 35,900 place names and Latitude & Longitude coordinates
- FREE Online Antiquarian Books regarding Greece, Asia Minor, Cyprus, Greek-Americans, etc.
- Greek Naming Traditions
- Historic photographs
- Greeks in the news circa 1870s thru 1920s – Flower Peddlers, Peanut Vendors, etc.
- WPA Interviews 1936-1940 Greek-American Life Histories
- plus much, much more – being updated all the time

Some of the sites on the links above have forename & surname Greek translators so watch out for those as many immigrants converted their birth names to American equivilents when they arrived in the U.S.A.

Hopefully you will find these links useful when researching your Greek family history.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

The New Family Search Pilot Site

Have you visited the new exciting Family Search pilot website yet? This is run by the LDS (Church of Latter Day Saints aka the Mormons) They have started a pilot program for their new search feature which includes free to view scans of census records, vital records and much more. This looks to be a great site in the making. You should check it out and I will let you know when it gets integrated as the new search function for the site.


Whats available: THE COLLECTIONS (also shows whether original images are available)

The Family Tree Magazine has a great introduction and more details and I have also posted a great video by Robert Ragan at Treasure Maps Genealogy which will give you a better idea of what it's about and how to use it. Make sure you give Robert a visit, his site has lots of good stuff.

If you would like to view full screen click on the button at the bottom, second from the right

Flash Drive Genealogy - How to Store Your Genealogy Stuff

You can now store and back up your important genealogy information on flash drives, the new portable storage media. That valuable information can be:

GEDCOM Files, Pictures, Documents, and anything else that is important to you...

The flash drive (other names are jump drive or thumb drive) is a handy modern-day gizmo that is your "back up buddy."

Go To: for even more information about this lesson, with links, pictures etc.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Emigration: Australia & New Zealand Sources etc

Although convict settlement in Australia is infamous, more people settled as free settlers, and the number of these swelled after gold was discovered in the 1850's, as well as the large numbers that arrived in the 20th century on the assisted passage scheme.

Aside from the general Passenger Lists there are other sources specific to Australia that may be of relevance, only some of which are available online.

The UK National Archives has a number of important records for newly arrived Australian migrants. The Colonial Office papers relating to the governance of New South Wales during the 19th century all contain names of immigrants. They can be found in series CO 201 (this & CO 208 are the only ones for which Microfilm copies are available at the National Library of Australia, the State Library of Victoria, and the State Library of New South Wales, Mitchell Library, Australia), CO 202, CO 360 and CO 369. The archives of the New Zealand Company are available at CO 208.

The New Zealand Government has a very good History of Immigration online & the Tasmanian Archives have a very good website, which includes a searchable names index.

The Australian government took various censuses of convicts in New South Wales and Tasmania at various times from 1788 onwards. Although primarily concerned with recording convicts, they would also include those who were not transported. It is possible to find other genealogical data, such as age and occupation of these individuals in these censuses, found in HO 10.

The Society of Genealogists also has a good number of records, including some useful reference material, biographical dictionaries, early directories, lists of settlers, and inscriptions. Microfiche indexes to the births, deaths and marriages in Australia (except Tasmania) and New Zealand from the earliest times up to about 1900 are available in the Lower Library, together with lists of the wills proved in Victoria to 1899 and in New South Wales to 1980. Births, marriages and deaths in Tasmania 1806-99 are on CD-ROM in the Lower Library. There is a copy of the 1828 Census of New South Wales and of the 1882 Return of Freeholders in New Zealand.

The National Archives of Australia has only a limited amount of information, apart from the 20th century, as matters of immigration were not federal policy until 1901, . Prior to that each of the 6 states would control immigration and their archives contain a variety of information. However it does have a section of its website dedicated to Family Historians with much useful information and is well worth a visit.

It's also worth giving the IGI (International Genealogical Index) at FamilySearch a try, as they have records for both Australia and New Zealand.

The website Adelaide Proformat has a list of all the musters & census's taken between 1788 & 1901.

More links for genealogy sites for all of Australia can be found at Genealogy Links, Cyndi's List (AUS)& Cyndi's List (NZ). has the following records as searchable indexes (subscription necessary to view records):
New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia Convict Musters, 1806-1849
New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia, Convict Pardons and Tickets of Leave, 1834-1859
New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia, Settler and Convict Lists, 1787-1834
New South Wales, Australia 1828 - 1842: Bounty Immigrants List - Free Index
New South Wales, Australia Convict Ship Muster Rolls and Related Records, 1790-1849
New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896
New South Wales, Australia, Certificates of Naturalization, 1849-1903
New South Wales, Australia, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1826-1922
New South Wales Free Settlers 1826 - 1922
Australian Convict Transportation Registers – Other Fleets & Ships, 1791-1868
Australian Convict Transportation Registers – First Fleet, 1787-1788 - Free Index
Australian Convict Transportation Registers – Second Fleet, 1789-1790
Australian Convict Transportation Registers – Third Fleet, 1791
Historic Electoral Rolls 1842 - 1864 (Coming soon)
1828 & 1848 Census's (Coming soon)

The 20th Century

During the 20th century more than seven million people made Australia home. The National Archives project Making Australia Home is progressively making migration records available online.

The project involves listing individual migration records collections on an online database and making digital copies of these migration records available to view online. Migration records in the National Archives cover many millions of people who made the journey to Australia, including postwar displaced persons, those who travelled on assisted passage schemes and new arrivals who stayed in migrant accommodation centres like Bonegilla.

The records typically include personal details, such as name, nationality, date and place of birth and information about family members. In some cases there are photographs on the files.

The first step to finding out whether the National Archives holds migration records about you or your family is easy.

NameSearch, part of the RecordSearch database, lets you search specifically for migration records.

Simply enter the family surname and select 'Immigration and naturalisation records' using the drop-down list. Make sure you try variations of the name if you don't find records on your first attempt.

Many migration records have already been digitised as part of this ongoing work. They are identified in RecordSearch with a 'View digital copy' icon.

As well as these proactive digitisation projects, you are able to purchase online copies of records. When you have found a record you want in RecordSearch, simply click on 'Request copy' to order an online copy. The record will be placed onto RecordSearch and you will be notified by email about how to find and view the images.

The National Archives in Australia also have a good set of online Fact Sheets for those wishing to research their Family Histories on how to use the archives, what's available and where to look beyond.

1911 Census now online

The latest census available to the public is the eagerly awaited 1911 census for England and Wales. In recent years, census information has been closed, certainly for family history purposes, for 100 years. The National Archives were planning to make the 1911 census available in January 2012 but a ruling by the Information Commissioner in December 2006 meant that the National Archives was forced to make the information available now.

As from 13th January 2009, it is available from on a dedicated website, with a phased release, county by county; this will include images and transcription data, initially on a pay-per-view basis only, however searches will be free.

Viewing the images of the household pages uses 30 credits, which costs from £2.50 to £3.48, depending on the package of credits that you buy.

The images have all been scanned in very high quality colour – all previous censuses have only been available in black and white – giving much clearer images and greater legibility than previous censuses.

For this price you will also be able to view all the associated images for the family: this includes both sides of the household form ( RG 14); the page from the enumerator’s book,which lists the head of household for all the neighbouring buildings; summary statistical pages for the registation district and details of the enumerator’s walk (RG 78). For most searches this means that you will get between two and seven images for your 30 credits.

Customers living outside the UK can purchase PayAsYouGo credits online using a credit or debit card. Payments can be made in your own currency by selecting the relevant option in the ’Choose currency‘ drop-down menu.

The Census: What is it?

The 1911 census was a household census taken on the night of Sunday 2nd April 1911. It holds information on every household, vessel, institution and overseas residencies that were part of England and Wales in 1911 (including some ships at sea, and some army units stationed overseas). A full entry would contain names of persons in each household, age, occupation, position in household (i.e. head, wife, son, grandfather etc), whether they had any illnesses and the full address of the property where they were residing that night.

The 1911 census is the first census where the householder's schedule has remained the master entry, rather than the enumerator's notes, so you will be able in most cases to view your ancestors' handwriting when looking at 1911 census entries.

The Householder and Institutional Schedules (National Archives document reference RG 14) contains 35,000 volumes detailing information relating to 35 million people in England and Wales. There are (approximately) 8,500,000 pieces of paper each slightly larger than an A3 sheet that make up the schedules, filled in by each head of household or similar authority. There are also 38,000 volumes of enumerators' summary books (document reference RG 78) to accompany the census. They hold useful and unique information that supports the census information but they do not provide the level of personal details that can be found in the census schedules.

The 1911 census sustained water damage many years ago, before it was transferred to The National Archives. This damage affected about 5% of the volumes and means that information is not retrievable from parts of these volumes. There is only one volume missing from the whole series in total.

Census Details

The details recorded for each person were:

Name and surname
Relationship to head of family
Age - this was recorded in separate columns for male and female
Marital condition
Number of years married (present marriage, question only answered by married women)
Number of children born to present marriage, number that are still living, number who have died. (again present marriage, married women only)
Personal occupation
Industry/service with which worker is connected
Employment status
Nationality (if born in a foreign country)
Infirmity, one of deaf, dumb, blind, lunatic, imbecile or feeble minded. The age at which the "infirmity came on" was also required. This information is considered personally sensitive and will not be available until 2012.

New information in the 1911 census was concerned with the family, that is the questions that had to be answered by married women on how long they had been married and how many children there were from the marriage. An article in The Times in January 1911 on the coming census said that "no such inquiry had been made at any previous Census, but its bearing on much-debated problems of national progress and retrogression is clear" - nothing changes!

Also extra information was required on professions or trade rather than simply "occupation" as asked in the previous census. The two pieces of information required, "Industry/service with which worker is connected" and "Employment status", would mean for example that someone who was unemployed at the time of the census would still give his or her usual occupation.

Organising the Census

Very precise instructions were given to try and ensure every one was counted once and only once. The rule was that someone should be included if they passed the night of Sunday April 2 1911 in this dwelling and were alive at midnight or arrived at the dwelling the following morning not having been enumerated elsewhere - intended to catch night workers. This did not include new-born children - anyone born after midnight should not have been enumerated.

Caravans and tents that were occupied on census night were counted as an inhabited dwelling. It was the job of the police to enumerate everyone who passed the night in "barns, outhouses or in the open air". To try and reduce the number of vagrants on the street, the Salvation Army opened up extra shelters for the night.

The Times reported the day after the census that the King and Queen had set an excellent example in "the careful and accurate filling-up of the census schedules" although their personal involvement appears to have been limited to telling palace staff to do the work, carefully and accurately.

It was the job of the 36,000 enumerators, mainly men, to distribute and then collect on Monday April 3rd the completed census schedules. They were paid a minimum fee of 21s plus 3s6d for every 100 persons enumerated after the first 400 as well as an allowance of 1s for every mile in excess of six "necessarily traversed in collecting the schedules". As well as distributing, collecting and checking the schedules, they also had to provide a summary of the dwellings and population in each enumeration district but they were spared the laborious work required in earlier censuses of copying schedules into the enumeration book.

Many of the enumerators worked for Boards of Guardians or other local authorities. There was concern before the census that if the headmaster of a primary school was absent doing his enumerator's duties, he would be at a disadvantage if the school were to be visited by an inspector, so inspectors were told not to choose that day to visit the school.

Failure to complete the census schedule was an offence, liable to a fine not exceeeding five pounds. The Suffragists campaign was in full flow at the time of the census and they planned to disrupt the census by staying out all night and refusing to complete a schedule. One group spent the night at a skating rink in Aldwych but they were counted there by the police so their action was considered a failure. The lack of names, age etc were seen as of secondary importance at the time although that will not be of much comfort to anyone trying to find details of suffragettes for their family tree.

Counting the Census

Once the enumerator's tasks were completed, the details were sent to a building in Millbank behind the Tate Gallery. Twenty-four calculating machines had been hired and installed there in preparation and details from the census were entered on to punched cards, one set of about 80 thousand for dwellings, a second set of about 4 million for married women and a third set of about 36 million for the rest of the population. The cards were punched to contain key information from the schedules and then sorting machines read the cards and sorted them.

The Times described how the "machines are worked and the division is accomplished by electricity. The cards pass between a wire brush and a brass roller. The wires on the brush press against one column of the card and, passing through the punched aperture in that column, establish electric contact with the roller at a spot opposite the aperture and corresponding to the particular class which the punched mark represents. A corresponding "jaw" immediately opens, the card slips into it, and is forced into one of 11 boxes representing as many classes".

All this was intended to produce the census results within a year. Provisional figures were produced on May 25th that year showing the population of England and Wales as 36 million, an increase of 10.9% since 1901.