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Family history news round-up

It’s been a hectic few weeks on Family Tree, meaning we missed adding some recent news reports to the website. For more in-depth stories, don’t forget to check out the news pages in each issue of the magazine! Here’s a quick round up of some of the latest stories:

Royal Red Cross recipients
You can now find out if your ancestors are among the 8,969 people who were awarded the Royal Red Cross nursing award. The records, which span the period 1883 to 1994, have been added to findmypast.co.uk.

The Royal Red Cross was first awarded in 1883 ‘for special exertions in providing for the nursing, or for attending to, sick and wounded soldiers and sailors’. The award was so special that only 246 women had been considered worthy of the honour by the start of WWI. This rose to 6,741 by 1922, when new classes of medal were introduced. Men became eligible for the first time in 1976.

Footage from the Front
Films about World War I that have never been seen outside a cinema or on television are to be made available on the internet for the first time.
The European Film Gateway 1914 (EFG1914) plans to digitise up to 650 hours of footage and make it freely accessible via europeana.eu, Europe’s digital library, museum and archive.
The footage, which includes newsreels and documentary films, as well as fiction films from and about World War I, is being digitised by archives across Europe, including the Imperial War Museum in London.

Jill Cousins, executive director of Europeana, said: ‘This is an enormously valuable project. Although a considerable amount of film material covering the Great War was produced, experts estimate about 80 per cent of that footage has been lost forever. Surviving films remain in analogue format, but access to them can be difficult, cumbersome and costly. But through digitisation, the material can be accessible to all on the web.’

3.5 million-plus
Working with family history societies for Devon, Suffolk, and North-West Kent, findmypast.co.uk has added 3.5 million Devon baptisms, marriages and burials 1538-1911; 130,000 baptisms and marriages for Suffolk, and 49,000 burials for Kent. See www.findmypast.co.uk/content/ffhs/societies.

Discovery now live
The National Archives’ new Discovery service is now live at discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. DocumentsOnline is due to be switched off imminently. The Catalogue will be switched off at the end of June. For more information about the new service, see our article in the July issue on sale 15 June.

Filling the GAGP
The Mixed Roots Foundation has launched the Global Adoptee Genealogy Project (GAGP) and established the Filling in the GAGP Fund to help adopted people and their families discover their biological and cultural roots through DNA testing.

The DNA testing will be carried out by 23andMe and Family Tree DNA. The Filling in the GAGP Fund will provide monetary support for DNA testing to adoptees and their families, based on financial need. The official launch of GAGP will take place later this year.

To learn more about GAGP or the Filling in the GAGP Fund visit www.mixedrootsfoundation.org.

Research & records for India
Families in British India Society (FIBIS) volunteers have uploaded to the FIBIS database births, marriages and deaths for the years 1905, 1906, 1908 and 1909, as reported in ‘Domestic Occurrences’ in The Times of India newspaper: www.new.fibis.org/archives/640.

Indexes for the Journal of the Families In British India Society, editions 1-12, are also now online and free to search in the FIBIS database. Entries in the index are linked to the relevant journal, but only FIBIS members will be able to view the journals when logged in: www.new.fibis.org/archives/638.

Records relating to The Royal Indian Engineering College, Coopers Hill have also been added to the FIBIS database.

FIBIS is currently looking for new volunteers to form part of its research team and deal with queries from members unable to access India records in the British Library. If you’re interested or want more information, please email Beverly Hallam on research@fibis.org.

Aberdeen burials
Nearly 33,000 burial records dating between January 1830 and November 1904 for St Peter’s Churchyard in Aberdeen have been added to 105,000 records for St Peter’s already on www.deceasedonline.com. The company estimates that there are at least 10,000 further records for St Peter’s still to be added. These should be uploaded soon, and over the next few months Deceased Online will be adding cemetery section maps for St Peter’s, to help with the locating of graves.

New DNA tests & more from Ancestry
Ancestry has launched its ‘AncestryDNA’ service, adding to its existing DNA tests. The new test will enable people to combine DNA science with arguably the world’s largest online family history resource and a broad global database of DNA samples.

AncestryDNA will initially be made available by invitation-only to Ancestry.com subscribers, with the expectation that the service will be made available to the general public later this year. To learn more about AncestryDNA, or to sign up to be notified about future developments, visit www.ancestrydna.com.

On the records front, Ancestry.co.uk has added Middlesex, England, Convict Transportation Contracts, 1682-1787. This is a collection of Middlesex Quarter Sessions Court orders for convicts to be transferred to British colonies. Specifically the convicts were transferred to America, the Caribbean, or, in later years, Australia. Information that can be found in the records includes: convict name; ship name; captain name; destination; transfer dates. And the National Probate Calendar on Ancestry has been expanded to cover records from 1858 to 1966 (previously the collection spanned 1861-1941, and some of the missing interim years have been added, the collection now covering the majority of probate cases for the period). Ancestry has also added UK Poll Books and Electoral Registers, 1538-1893. Despite the ‘UK’ title, this database contains poll books and other documents listing names of voters in various elections in England. Besides names and details on the election itself – when it took place, who was running and for what – poll books may list address, occupation, qualifications for voting, and a place where the property that qualified a voter is located.

Call out for authors
UK history publisher Pen and Sword Books (www.pen-and-sword.co.uk) is launching a new social history imprint. The imprint will cover a wide range of historical periods and topics, focusing, although not exclusively, on British social history. It is looking for titles that bring history to life and reveal the experiences of ordinary people, as well as more unusual stories. If you have an idea for a social history title that you would like to submit for consideration, then please send a 300-500 word synopsis, with a short summary of previous writing experience and published work. Email commissioning editor Jen Newby (socialhistory@pen-and-sword.co.uk) for more information about the imprint or to submit a proposal.

Acknowledgement at last
A long time coming, the memorial to commemorate the service of the Bomber Boys in World War II, and to remember the 55,573 servicemen of Bomber Command who gave their lives, is due to be unveiled on 28 June in Green Park, London, see www.bombercommand.com. Plus, don’t miss the new documentary, ‘Who Betrayed the Bomber Boys?’, narrated by Stephen Fry, the late Robin Gibb and Jonathan Dimbleby on Yesterday channel on 28 June 2012, 9pm.

Parish records at TheGenealogist
TheGenealogist has added Worcestershire baptisms, 1700-1849. Other counties with records added to its Parish Records Transcripts collection include: Cornwall; Durham; Lincolnshire; Northumberland; Staffordshire; Surrey; Warwickshire; and Yorkshire. TheGenealogist has also added new directories for Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Middlesex, Oxford, Aberdeen and Glasgow.

Irish genealogy research service suspended
The free genealogy service at the National Archives of Ireland has been temporarily suspended from 1 June. The website announcement states it hopes to reinstate the service as soon as possible.

Industrial heritage fears
In 20 years almost half of the nation’s industrial artefacts and sites could stop working or be forced to close due to lack of skills needed to maintain them, according to a new policy statement from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Chairman of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Engineering Heritage Committee John Wood said: ‘The UK’s industrial heritage is often overlooked, but these artefacts are not just revealing physical links to our great industrial history – from the Industrial Revolution through to the present day – but potentially profitable projects that can generate wealth and jobs to local areas. We need to take action now to help transfer skills, so that vital techniques and practices to maintain these precious links to our industrial history aren’t lost forever.’

The Institution’s ‘Saving Britain’s Industrial Heritage’ policy statement recommends that national organisations act to provide advice and guidance to all industrial heritage societies on how to maintain and preserve artefacts/sites and establish best-practice guidelines. The Institution’s membership, where possible, should also be encouraged to help in the preservation and maintenance of industrial heritage artefacts and sites. The academic and engineering industrial knowledge of the Institution’s 100,000 members is a valuable asset which could assist local organisations in preserving industrial heritage for the future.

Read the full policy statement at www.imeche.org/knowledge/policy/education/policy/IndustrialHeritage.

New Discovery at The National Archives

The National Archive’s (TNA’s) new online catalogue, Discovery, is live in Beta mode and will replace its current Catalogue completely by 31 March 2012, when all of Discovery’s features will become available. TNA says Discovery will make it easier for everyone to search and use its collections, from first-time users to experienced researchers.

DocumentsOnline is also to be replaced, by a digital document delivery service feature in Discovery that will be available from 31 March. This should make it easier for users to search for records and order digitised copies, if available, all in one place.

TNA plans to continue to develop new features and functionality for Discovery in the future, in order to better integrate its online services and collections.

Research guidance
TNA has also made some changes to its Records website (www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records) to help users find the guidance they need more easily. You can now find all TNA’s online research guidance through its new research guidance A-Z (nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/atoz) and its research tools pages on looking for a person, place and subject.

The National Archives Media PlayerMedia player
Also new is TNA’s Archives Media Player – the new multimedia hub bringing together all of its audio and video content in one place.

TNA’s podcasts are very popular, and as its back catalogue continues to grow, the existing Podcasts page has become increasingly unwieldy and difficult to search.

The Archives Media Player provides a quick and effective search function by media type, title, key word or author. Categories are easily navigable from the media player’s home page and there are options to rate individual podcasts for other users and to post comments.

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