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Ezine masthead image
Welcome to the September 2013 Edition of the FFHS Ezine                                                        No 41

Society Spotlight: Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry

New Birmingham Library Opens

Out Now! our Australasian really useful information leaflet

History West Midlands

Calling for People with Memories of the Ice Trade

Oral History

WW1 Soldier Wills Digitised

RAF Museum

Family History Society Open Days and Fairs

This Month’s Giveaways

Pen and Sword ebooks


Volunteers Needed!

Naval History Website

British and Irish Newspaper Index

New Society for One-Place Studies

Saturdays at Northants RO

Greater Manchester RO - Temporary Closure

The National Archive – Free Talks

Web Updates

Back to our Past


Book Reviews

Diary Dates

Advertise with us

Competition Winners

Society Spotlight

Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry

Celebrating its 50th Anniversary

BMSGH LogoBirmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry’s inaugural meeting took place on 12 February 1963 at the Birmingham & Midland Institute, Birmingham, chaired by retired surgeon Dr. Stuart Kingsley-Norris.  About 30 interested people attended that first meeting, and 50 years later the Society now has over 2,700 members worldwide.  Covering the three pre1974 counties of Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, the Society has nine branches; Birmingham, Kenilworth, Burton on Trent, Stoke on Trent, Wolverhampton, Bromsgrove, Stourbridge, Worcester and London. All branches hold monthly meetings, except London where the meetings are held quarterly, with speakers and help nights.   There is also an active Heraldic Group which meets monthly in Birmingham.

The Society has a dedicated Reference Library in Birmingham which is open most weekdays and contains over 8,000 publications covering a wide range of subjects. Experienced librarians are there to assist you in your searches.  There is also a lending library which is open during the monthly meeting.  All of our publications can be viewed in the library or can be purchased via our online shop, many of which are now available as downloads. The Society runs regular coach trips down to The National Archives in Kew and the London Metropolitan Archives and also holds one day beginners courses during the year.  As well as allocating new members to correspondence secretaries who help and guide researchers, there is also our ‘Link’ service whereby members from across the world can receive help from another member.  Further information on the all aspects of the Society is available on the website.

New Birmingham Library Opens
The new £189m Library of Birmingham, which houses a collection of one million books, has now opened.  The library has more than 200 public access computers, theatres, an exhibition gallery and music rooms and also contains the Shakespeare Memorial Room, home to a collection of 43,000 books.  The library has registers for Anglican churches within the present-day Birmingham Diocese and includes registers of churches which no longer exist and those of churches which were formerly in Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire, such as Aston, Handsworth and Kings Norton. Details of many of the registers held can be found through the Archives and Heritage online catalogue Calmview.  The library has free access to the General Record Indexes  of births, marriages and deaths on microfiche.

our Australasian really useful information leaflet is now available! Copies can be downloaded from the website of the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations.  Representatives of any Australasian society or family/local/community groups who would like further information or who would like to arrange to receive a supply of the leaflets should contact the FFHS Administrator at admin@ffhs.org.uk

History West Midlands
History West Midlands is a new magazine written by historians and researchers from the region.  The magazine uncovers the stories of the people, ideas and innovations which have shaped the counties of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. “It will interest anyone who wants to know more about the region and understand its history.”  The second edition is out now and focusses on the history of immigration into the region.  You can read the first 2 issues online or subscribe to receive the first 3 issues for free. The website provides free access to a variety of programmes, news and events and links relating to the history of the region.

Calling for People with Memories of the Ice Trade
London Canal MuseumBefore mechanical refrigeration, ice was taken from ponds, rivers and canals and then stored underground.  Ice was later imported from Norway and this had to be stored somewhere so large ice wells were dug in London.  The ice wells at New Wharf Road are now part of the London Canal Museum which is hoping to bring to light this little known story of London’s commercial ice trade. As part of this major project, the museum is carrying out new research.  An element of this is oral history interviews with people who have worked or are still working in the ice trade, and their relatives.  The museum is looking for anyone with stories to tell of what it was like to work manufacturing or delivering ice. “If you have memories of the ice trade that you would like to share we would love you to get in touch” says Jane Wilson, Co-ordinator of Oral History for the London Canal Museum. Email: jane@canalmuseum.org.uk.

Oral History
Oral History recordings can be a fantastic resource for family history researchers.  Collections of oral Oral History Societyrecordings can be found throughout the country in libraries and archives as well as other organisations such as the British Library which has the largest archive of recordings in the UK.  You could be lucky and come across the recording of a family member but more likely the recordings will be a rich source of information about a particular locality or industry.  An example given on the Oral History Society website is of recordings held by the East Midlands Oral History Society Archive (EMOHA) which recalls the Leicester hosiery industry, describing day to day tasks, working relationships and how the work place smelled – all giving an insight into how those working in a particular industry spent their working day.  Recordings also shed light on how our ancestors may have spoken as they are a rich source of examples of local dialects.  The Oral History Society has some tips for family historians on its website; from how to record interviews with family members to copyright advice and also links to other sites related to oral history.

WW1 Soldier Wills Digitised
As part of the centenary of World War One, more than 230,000 wills of soldiers who died on the front are to be made available online.  The final handwritten wills were kept by the troops in their pocket service books.   The original paper records are kept in 1,300 boxes and are owned by Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS).  The huge online archive is also a part of a larger project to make all war wills publicly available, dating from the Boer War to the Falklands.  John Apthorpe, from Iron Mountain, says: "The archive is not only a valuable source of information for historians, it gives the general public, here and overseas, the chance to get closer to their lost ancestors”.  It is free to search but copies of wills are chargeable.

RAF Museum
The Royal Air Force Museum is based on two sites in England.  The London site is situated on what used to be RAF Hendon and holds over 100 aircraft in five themed aircraft halls. The museum at Cosford, in the Midlands, displays over 70 aircraft. There are also special exhibitions, films, artwork, engines, missiles, photographs, uniforms and medals.  If you can’t make it to either of the museum’s sites, the website has a wealth of information related to the RAF including online exhibitions.  There is podcast series on a variety of subjects such as “Remembering Guy Gibson” and “No 617 Squadron after the Dams Raid”.  Whilst the museum is unable to deal with extensive enquiries the website does have a series of helpful leaflets if you are researching an ancestor involved in WW1 or the RAF.

Family History Society Open Days and Fairs
If you are looking to kick start your family history research as the nights begin to draw in, Open Days and Fairs are a great way to be inspired, learn more and meet other people researching their ancestors. 

The Yorkshire Group of Family History Societies is holding a Family & Local History Extravaganza on Saturday 21 September 2013 at the Doncaster College for the Deaf, Leger Way, Doncaster, DN2 6AY from 10am to 4pm.  There will be family and local history societies on hand to offer help as well as other exhibitors and talks by Audrey Collins, Ian Marson and Chris Pomery.  See the website for further details.

Fenland Family History Day on 28 September 2013 at St Peter’s Church Hal, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, from 10am to 4pm.  Please see the Fenland Family History Society website.

Hampshire Genealogical Society Open Day to be held at Horndean Technical College, Horndean Hants on 29 September 2013 from10.00 am.  Free admission, guest speakers, bookstalls, family history societies, Help Desk and more are on offer.  Please see the website for further details.

Catholic Family History Society will hold its Day Conference and AGM on Saturday 5 October 2013 at the Salford Diocesan Archives (which are actually in Manchester).  There will be guest speakers and representatives from local family history societies along with a help desk and other opportunities to further your research. All of the society’s publications will be on sale. More details are available on the website.

Oxfordshire Family History SocietyOxfordshire Family History Society's Open Day is on Saturday 5 October 2013 at The Marlborough School, Shipton Road, Woodstock, OX20 1LP from 10am to 4pm.  Free admission and free parking. There will be a variety of stalls; family history societies, genealogical suppliers, military groups, booksellers and more. Research help will be available and CDs of Oxfordshire parish registers and memorial inscriptions will be on sale, as well as a wide variety of Oxfordshire books. Further information can be found on the website.  All are welcome!

Devon Family History Society will hold its AGM & Conference "Love, Lifestyles and Litigation “on Saturday 5 October 2013 at Belmont Chapel, Western Way, Exeter, EX1 2DB.  Non-members are welcome but may not vote.  There will be Devon FHS Publications on sale, Indexes and Advice Services, Devon Books, Devon Heritage Service, Plymouth & West Devon Record Office, J&V Forster Postcards and Cornwall FHS.  Speakers include Dr. Janet Few, Professor Rebecca Probert and Jan Wood.  Please see the website for further details.

Glamorgan Family History Society's Family History Fair is on Saturday 12 October 2013 at Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Centre, Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Village, CF48 1UT. 10am-4pm. Friendly experts with local knowledge available to help with all queries. A wide variety of stalls - Welsh and English family history societies, military experts, family tree charts, genealogy supplies, old post cards,old maps, local and family history books and so much more. See the website for further information.

Suffolk Family History Society is holding a Family History Fair & AGM on Saturday 19 October 2013 at Needham Market Community Centre, Needham Market. There will be family history lectures, societies and more! Please see the website for further information.

Cambridgeshire Family History Society will hold a Family History Fair on Saturday 26 October 2013 at Girton Glebe Primary School, Girton, Cambridge, CB3 0PN from 10am-4pm.  Free admission and parking. There will be stalls and lectures available.  Further details will be added so please keep visiting the website.

West Surrey Family History Society Family History Fair and Open Day Saturday will be held on Saturday 26 October 2013 at Woking Leisure Centre, Woking.  There will be family and local history societies, genealogy suppliers along with talks and research facilities.  There will also be a specialist help desk and computer look ups available. Please see the website for further information.

Huddersfield & District Family History Society will hold a Family & Local History Fair on Saturday 9 November 2013 at Batley Town Hall, Market Place, Batley, WF17 5DE, from 10am to 4pm.  There will be family and local history societies; genealogy suppliers along with West Yorkshire Archives and Kirklees Local History Library.  Speakers include Jackie Depelle, Lynne Schofield and Alan Stewart-Kaye.  See the website for further details.

This Month’s Giveaway

How to Read Houses


For this edition we have “How to read houses: a crash course in domestic architecture”, by Will Jones, kindly donated by The Bloomsbury Press 2013 to giveaway.  To read a review of this book and others that may be of interest to family/local and social historians please visit our Book Reviews page on our website.  To enter the draw for this book send an email with ‘domestic’ in the subject line to competitions@ffhs.org.uk before 21 October 2013.

For the second giveaway we have “Tracing Your House History”, by Gill Blanchard kindly donated by Pen & Sword.  “Whether you live in a manor house or on a planned estate, in a labourer's cottage, a tied house, a Victorian terrace, a twentieth-century council house or a converted warehouse – this is the book for you. In a series of concise, information-filled chapters, Gill Blanchard shows you how to trace the history of your house or flat, how to gain an insight into the lives of the people who lived in it before you, and how to fit it into the wider history of your neighbourhood.”  To enter the draw for this book, send an email with “History” in the subject line to competitions@ffhs.org.uk before 21 October 2013.


Pen & Sword are now offering over 900 of their titles including many of interest to the family historian as ebooks at a cost of £4.99.  For further information and to search the titles available visit the Pen and Sword website.


Tracing your House History

Hobbycrafts and Creative StitchesCreative Stitches
As we say goodbye to the summer and settle down for the Autumn and Winter, perhaps you Hobbycraftsare thinking of taking up a new craft. If you are looking for inspiration or are already a crafter and needing new supplies why not pop along to a Hobbycrafts show near you. The FFHS will be attending the following International Craft and Hobby Fairs (ICHF) events over the next few months and would be delighted to meet you. Representatives of local family history societies will be on hand to assist you with any family history enquiries.

Creative Stitches& Hobbycrafts Show, Westpoint, Exeter 26-29 September 2013
Hobbycrafts, SECC Glasgow 24-27 October 2013
Hobbycrafts NEC, Birmingham 7-10 November 2013

Early Bird ticket offers are available on the ICHF website.

Volunteers Needed!
Transcribe ScotlandsPlaces is calling on helpers to dig through archives dating from 1645 to 1880 and help to transcribe more than 150,000 pages.  Volunteers will be asked to read Ordnance Survey ‘name books’, which formed the first official record of Scottish places and place names, as well as records of land taxation and taxes on clocks and watches.  Andrew Nicoll, RCAHMS outreach officer, said: “The website boasts a treasure trove of historical archives, which provide a fascinating insight into the history of buildings and communities across Scotland but we need volunteer transcribers to help with the detective work, so that we can understand more and piece the jigsaw together.  Anyone, anywhere in the world, with access to the internet can get involved”.  The transcriptions will eventually be added to a collection of historical information on the ScotlandsPlaces website.  For more information about Transcribe ScotlandsPlaces or to find out how to get involved, email: enquiries@scotlandsplaces.gov.uk

Naval History Website
Naval-History.netIf you have an ancestor who served with the Royal Navy during WW1 you may be interested in this website which includes details of the Royal Navy Log Books and The Ships Histories, a Citizen History Project. Royal Navy log books of the WW1 era has 350,000 pages transcribed, 175 ships now online including Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, East Africa & China Station. There is also a wealth of other information on this site pertaining to WW1 including Casualty Lists, Royal Navy Despatches and Royal Navy Honours and Gallantry Awards.  There are also War Diaries from August 1939 to March 1942 which are combined with other primary sources into a day-by-day account. The period April 1942 into 1946 is covered by a growing number of War Diaries ranging from the Home and Mediterranean Fleets to the British Pacific Fleet.  The Diaries make fascinating reading in their own right. They also provide detailed movements of hundreds of ships and the men who sailed in them.  You can search for men, ships or battles.  Visit our WW1 centenary pages on our website for other websites of interest.

British and Irish Newspaper Index
This is a free to use site which lists all the titles of the Digitalised Online British and Irish Newspapers (19 different collections covering 17th to 21st Century) which may be very helpful to identify whether a title is available and if so, what dates could be available and where you can locate it.  The Lists are split into: England (excluding London), London (which splits between Local Borough newspapers and the Main London List), Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Channel Islands, and Isle of Man. The lists are sorted by County and then Town except London which is sorted by title and date.  The index has been compiled by Richard Heaton who is also available as a speaker through the FFHS Directory of Speakers.

Society for One-Place StudiesSociety for One-Place Studies
The 'Society for One-Place Studies', a 'not-for-profit' organisation for individuals and societies with an interest in family history and local history has been launched. The aims of the Society are to encourage and assist those involved in one-place studies. A truly global organisation from the outset, the Committee members are situated around the world from New Zealand to England and the USA.  The cost of membership to the Society is just £10 per annum with the option of registering your place of interest for a further (one-off) £10 fee per study. This can be a road, hamlet, village, town ....whatever! The Society provides an online study profile and a dedicated email address for registered studies and a plethora of resources including a fascinating quarterly newsletter in the Members' area of the website.  There are many other developments in the pipeline to expand the service offered to members.  Please see the website for more details and how to join.

Saturdays at Northamptonshire Record Office
In order to meet demand for a longer working day on a Saturday, Northamptonshire Record Office is changing their Saturday opening hours from 9am-1pm each Saturday to 9am - 4pm on the first Saturday of the month only. The changes will take effect from Saturday 5 October 2013, so the next Saturday openings after then will be on 2 November and 7 December 2013. The free family history help desks provided by the Northamptonshire Family History Society on the first Saturday will continue from 9am - 1pm.  Follow this link for further details about the Record Office.

Greater Manchester Record Office Temporary Closure
As part of the renovations of the Central Library and new Archives+, from 15 September 2013, Greater Manchester County Record Office and The Manchester Room will close.  During the closure a temporary library is open at the Town Hall Extension where PCs, digital maps, and a small local history section can be accessed. Local history books are also available in libraries across Manchester and can be reserved for collection at the Town Hall Extension.  See the website for further information.

The National Archive – Free Talks
The National ArchivesThe National Archives holds a range of events, from free public talks on records of interest, to training courses for archivists and academics. You can view a list of coming talks here.   If you are unable to make it to Kew, most of the talks are available as podcasts and those currently available include “Tracing your merchant seamen ancestors through crew lists and agreements” and “There and back again: going away doesn’t mean staying away”.  You can also find information on other events and talks The National Archives is involved in on the Events elsewhere page.

Web Updates
Findmypast.co.uk has added the Canadian Collection, two million new Hertfordshire parish baptisms, marriages and burials for the period 1538-1990.  Over 1 million new Welsh parish records and will publish millions of school records from England and Wales online. The registers span the period 1870-1914 and cover every region of England and Wales. 

Ancestry.co.uk has added Clandestine Marriages which detail nearly 900,000 unlicensed ceremonies.  Baptism records also feature and can be searched by name and baptism date.  Non-conformist Records 1567-1970, more than 35,000 new Railway Employment Records, 1833-1956 and Eton School Lists 1791 – 1850 have also been added.

The Genealogist has added:  90,000 Criminal records, which cover indictable offences in England and Wales between 1782 and 1892. The records also uniquely cover prisoners 'pardoned', criminal charges and those classed as 'criminal lunatics'. Over one million apprenticeship records and 26,500 individuals to their Parish Transcripts for Worcestershire in partnership with Malvern Family History Society have also been added.

Family Search has added the records of almost one million Jamaican births between 1900 and 1930.

You can read war diaries on the Forces War Records website for free.

Back to our PastBack to our Past

The popular family history event returns to Dublin and will run from 18 to 20 October 2013. This year sees the FFHS attending the show along with many other societies and organisations and there will be three days of lectures and presentations. This year is set to be even better than last year. If you are attending the show please come along to our stand and say hello! See the Back to our Past website for further information and a list of lectures and presentations.

Blog - Birmingham’s Georgian & Regency Streets

“Explore England's second biggest city through the eyes of its Georgian & Regency inhabitants.”

If you have ancestors from Birmingham then this blog will be of interest to you.  It is a fascinating look at the history of Birmingham and is packed full of information and facts about Birmingham. It also has copies of some early maps where you can look for the places your ancestors were living and also see how much and how quickly the city grew.  It lists architects who worked in Birmingham, a timeline, photo album showing early photographs of the city and a handy index.  Visit the blog.

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The FFHS Ezine has a current readership of over 13,500 worldwide. To discuss sponsorship or advertising, please email Ezine Editor Samantha Bourne

Book Reviews

To read reviews of recently published books of interest to family historians

visit our Book Review Page

Ezine Competition Winners

A full list of Ezine competition winners can be seen on the FFHS website.

view competition winners

Diary Dates

Family & Local History Extravaganza, Doncaster, 21 September 2013

Fenland FHS Family History Day, Wisbech, 28 September 2013

Creative Stitches& Hobbycrafts Show, Westpoint, Exeter 26-29 September 2013

Hampshire Genealogical Society Open Day, Horndean, 29 September 2013

Oxfordshire FHS Open Day, Woodstock, 5 October 2013

Catholic FHS Conference, Salford, 5 October 2013

Glamorgan FHS Family History Fair, Merthyr Tydfil, 12 October 2013

Back to our Past, Dublin, Ireland.  18 October – 20 October 2013

Suffolk FHS Family History Fair, Needham Market, 19 October 2013

Hobbycrafts, SECC Glasgow 24-27 October 2013

Echoes of the Past, Lincoln, 27 October 2013

West Surrey FHS Open Day & Fair, Woking, 26 October 2013

Cambridgeshire FHS Family History Fair, Cambridge 26 October 2013

Hobbycrafts NEC, Birmingham 7-10 November 2013

Huddersfield & District Family History Society, Batley, 9 November 2013


For a list of events visit our Events Page on our website and GENEVA