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Welcome to the July 2015 Edition of the FFHS Ezine                                                         No 54

Irish Parish Registers Online

Ryedale Group Celebrates 10 Years

Admiralty Court Records

Battle of Britain and the London Blitz

1939 Register

WW2 Grave Records Release

Inventor Ancestors?

This Month's Bumper Book Giveaways

National Family History Month in Australia

Family History Biography Offer

Freedmen’s Bureau Project

Can you help?

Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook

Book Reviews

Diary Dates

Advertise with us

Competition Winners

HolyCross Church, Kenmare, Kerry, Ireland.  reproduced courtesy of Jim LinwoodIrish Parish Registers Online
Images of Roman Catholic parish registers should now be free to view on the National Library of Ireland's (NLI) website. At the time of writing, the library was planning to make the first records available on 8 July, as part of an ongoing initiative. Ciara Kerrigan of the NLI said, 'this is the most significant ever genealogy project in the history of the NLI. The microfilms have been available to visitors to the NLI since the 1970s. However, their digitisation means that, for the first time, anyone who likes will be able to access these registers without having to travel to Dublin.'

Catholic parish registers are a key resource for family historians with an interest in Irish genealogy, particularly as returns for the censuses taken prior to 1901 were largely destroyed in Ireland. These records date from the 1740s to the 1880s and cover 1091 parishes across Ireland. Typically, the parish registers include information such as the dates of baptisms and marriages, and the names of the key people involved, including godparents or witnesses. Genealogists will find researching easier if they have some idea in which parish their ancestors lived. The digital images will be searchable by location only, and will not be transcribed or indexed.

Ryedale Group Celebrates 10 Years Ryedale Group Logo
Ryedale Family History Group is hosting a series of events this July to commemorate its 10th anniversary. The group has had a productive first 10 years – members have transcribed and produced more than 75 CDs and books of local parish registers; they were also successful with the Heritage Lottery Fund, which enabled the group to set up a War Memorial Project.

On 15 July, Pamela Hartshorne, local historian and novelist, gave a talk on 'Fact into Fiction: writing about everyday life in Elizabethan York'. Later this month, on Friday 24 July, you are welcome to join the group at their Open Day being held at Hovingham Village Hall, North Yorkshire. It’s a great opportunity to visit their research room, find out more about the group and use its resources for free. They can help you with your research on ancestors from anywhere, not just those from the Ryedale area. You are very welcome to drop in and see what they do. For more on Ryedale Family History Group and its anniversary events, visit their website.

Admiralty Court Records
On the lookout for 17th century records to help with your family-history research? The MarineLives project is a collaborative public-history project, which was established in 2012 to digitise, transcribe and annotate the manuscript records of the English High Court of Admiralty. The original records, from the 1650s and 1660s, are held at The National Archives (TNA) in Kew. The archive is a fascinating insight into individual seventeenth-century seamen who were a boisterous lot, especially when ‘in drink’. As well as records like witness statements, it includes documents such as the disciplinary code drawn up in 1647 by the master of the Mayflower, an English ship engaged in the slave trade. The complete set of digital images of this archive is now available on a wiki site together with transcriptions of the first 86 folios. In the last three years, project volunteers have transcribed over 3 million words and 6000 pages.  The project is seeking people to help with its transcription work and says volunteers are given a high degree of support.  To find out what to expect if you become a non-academic volunteer see Roger Towner's blog.  If you can get involved, please contact MarineLives through their website.

A family bombed out Battle of Britain and the London Blitz
This summer marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, when, in the words of Winston Churchill, 'Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed to so few’. From July to September 1940, England was subjected to a sustained Luftwaffe attack. Adolf Hitler intended to achieve air superiority over the Royal Air Force, before launching an invasion. Instead, Britain's Royal Air Force held firm, giving Hitler his first major defeat of the war. To find out more about those who flew in the RAF during the war, see The National Archives useful guide to resources.

Although the invasion of Britain never occurred, the Luftwaffe continued its terrifying and deadly bombing campaign. The London Blitz began on 7 September 1940 and for 57 consecutive nights Londoners were subjected to an aerial onslaught.  The Bomb Sight project is a fascinating online map of the drops using the London WW2 bomb census, which was taken between October 1940 and June 1941.  Previously these maps were only available in the Reading Room at The National Archives. Now researchers can explore where the bombs fell online, plus the website includes an evolving archive of memories and photographs from the period.

The FFHS has a copy of The Second World War in the Air in Photographs 1945 to give away, see below.

1939 Register1939 Register
Findmypast, in partnership with The National Archives (TNA), is preparing to make the 1939 Register available online to the public later this year. In September 1939, Britain had declared war on Germany and the Government urgently needed to take stock of the civil population. The result was the National Register, a comprehensive overview of the civil population of England and Wales in 1939. The Register contains names, addresses, dates of birth, marital status, occupation and whether the individual was a member of the armed services or reserves.  

The most recent record of the English and Welsh population available to use in research is the 1911 census, with the 1921 census being made available in 2022. The 1931 census was destroyed during the war, and the 1941 census was never taken. This means that there will be a 30-year gap between surviving censuses, an enormous missing piece for family historians. The 1939 Register will bridge this gap, offering information on 40 million people in England and Wales that these missing censuses can’t provide. Due to legal restrictions relating to publishing private information on living people, anyone recorded on the 1939 Register who was born in the last 100 years will have their details redacted (blacked out) as time goes on these individuals will gradually be revealed.

Kranji War Cemetery courtesy of CWGCWW2 Grave Records Release
Original World War 2 records for 1.7 million individuals commemorated by the Commonwealth Graves Commission (CWGC) will be revealed to the public next month. The records will be made available to mark the 70th anniversary of Victory over Japan (VJ) Day on 15 August, through the 'casualty search' option on the CWGC website. Details will include personal headstone inscriptions, date of death, rank, regiment and even some documents which show the journey of the deceased to their final resting place. Andrew Fetherston, the CWGC's Archivist and Records Manager, said: 'They should prove a valuable resource for researchers, family historians and anyone with interest In the World Wars.'

Another insightful set of records with a link to VJ Day is The National Archives’ Japanese Index Cards of Allied Prisoners of War. You can browse the index online. To view an actual document you will need to either visit The National Archives or request a quote to have a copy sent to you. The 50,000 cards give details such as name, nationality, rank, camp, parents' names, date of birth and service number.

This year VJ Day will be commemorated in London with a Service of Remembrance at St-Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, followed by an Act of Remembrance at the Cenotaph. Later a fly past along the Thames by the Red Arrows is planned. FFHS has a new book about Japanese prisoners of war to give away: Captive Memories, see below.

Inventor Ancestors?
Did you have an inventor in the family? The Victorians were great innovators and it could well be that one of your forebears had the innovation bug. How to find out?

Inventors would often apply for a patent. Information on patent applications for the Victorian era – and beyond – is kept by the British Library. To locate a patent application prior to 1890, researchers will need to use the British Library's paper indexes, which were published by the Patent Office during the 18th and 19th centuries. These are not yet digitised so you will need to visit the Library or use its research service (fee payable) if you are not able to go in person. You can search by surname and if you are fortunate enough to find an entry of interest in an index, you can then view digitised copies of all old English patents from the period 1617–1852 and British patents for 1852–1899 on site. If the application was after 1890, then a search of the individual’s name on the digitised patent database, Espacenet should bring it up. We have a copy of the book, Great Victorian Discoveries – Astounding Revelations and Misguided Assumptions to give away, see below.

This Month's Bumper Book Giveaways

If you are wondering what to read this summer, why not visit the Book Review section of the FFHS website? Our reviewers have delved into a total of 40 books that cover a wide range of topics relating to family history. There must be at least one in the collection suitable for your summer-holiday reading. We have a bumper collection of giveaways this month too!

Great Victorian Discoveries – Astounding Revelations and Misguided Assumptions by Caroline Rochford

Have you ever heard of a four-footed bird? Can you really teach a dog to read? Where would you find a kangaroo crossed with a lion? In this Amberley Publishing follow-up to Great Victorian Inventions, Caroline Rochford reveals the wondrous experiments and extraordinary theories of the great minds of science, engineering and natural history of the Victorian age. Come on a remarkable journey into the past and see for yourself the extraordinary discoveries that promised to change the world forever.

We have one copy to give away.  To enter this draw, send an email with ‘Discoveries’ in the subject line to competitions@ffhs.org.uk before 17 August 2015. A review of this book is available on the FFHS website.

Great Victorian Discoveries book cover
The Origins of English Surnames book cover

The Origins of English Surnames by Joslin Fiennes
In England surnames were mostly established by the end of the 14th century. Uniquely, surnames describe medieval lives not captured by any other record. This book examines the origins of English surnames, looking at occupational names; locational names; names that record places; nicknames and personal names; names from the Continent; and symbolic names. In The Origins of English Surnames, published by Robert Hale, you will find the English people at a key moment in history, revealing the way they spoke, the jokes they made, and their memories of ancient cultures – all at a time when land-based feudalism was crumbling and people sought better lives.

We have one copy to give away.  To enter this draw, send an email with ‘Surnames’ in the subject line to competitions@ffhs.org.uk before 17 August 2015

Captive Memories: Far East POWs and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine by Meg Parkes and Geoff Gil

This is a book that will be of interest to any family historians who are related to World War 2 Far East Prisoners of War (POW). Captive Memories charts the history of a unique medical collaboration between Far East POW and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. It includes extracts from 66 Far East POW oral history interviews, plus a summary of an unpublished PhD thesis, based on an extensive Far East POW psychiatric study, conducted in Merseyside from 1975 onwards. Extracts from the POW oral histories are also online at the Captive Memories website. We have one copy of the book to give away.  To enter this draw, send an email with ‘Captive’ in the subject line to competitions@ffhs.org.uk before 17 August 2015.

The Second World War in the Air in Photographs 1945 by L. Archard
This publication, from Amberley Publishing, contains a wealth of photographs in monthly chapters. They highlight key events of 1945: the bomber offensive against Germany with the controversial attack on Dresden; the US fire-bombing raids against Japanese cities; V-2 rockets landing on British cities; British and US bombers dropping food supplies to Dutch civilians in famine-hit areas of the Netherlands; and finally in August 1945 the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, ending the war. A chapter covering the aftermath concludes with a photograph of a former member of the RAF being fitted with his civilian suit at the Demobilisation Clothing Centre.

We have one copy to give away. To enter this draw, send an email with ‘1945’ in the subject line to competitions@ffhs.org.uk before 17 August 2015.

The Second World War in the Air book cover

Shepherds' Huts and Living Vans book coverShepherds’ Huts and Living Vans by David Morris
In the 18th century, shepherd’s huts were a common sight in rural areas but now have virtually disappeared.  These huts on wheels were basic shelters with little comfort, designed to be located in the open fields allowing the shepherd to be near his sheep at crucial times especially lambing. This well-illustrated book, published by Amberley Publishing, gives a short history of these huts from the earliest recorded in 1462, through their heyday to their decline. It gives a valuable insight into the lives and times of shepherds.

We have one copy to give away.  To enter this draw, send an email with ‘Shepherds’ in the subject line to competitions@ffhs.org.uk before 17 August 2015. A review of this book is available on the FFHS website.

National Family History Month in Australia
This August, Australians will celebrate National Family History Month. Organised by the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO), in partnership with the Society of Australian Genealogists (SOG), the programme will launch in Adelaide and then see a series of events take place across Australia.  Included are family reunions, seminars, workshops, open days, history walks, book launches and exhibitions. The NFHM website has details of event listings. To coincide with NFHM, in partnership with AFFHO, FFHS is publishing the second edition of Our Australasian Really Useful Information Leaflet. Look out for further details on the FFHS, AFFHO and SAG websites as well as in the September ezine.

Family History Biography Offer
So your research into your ancestry is well under way and you've unearthed some amazing material. An extraordinary story – your story and that of your family – has opened up before you. The next step is to write it up into the fascinating narrative that lies behind the dates, places and occupations. Author Sandra Hempel specialises in historical non-fiction with a strong storyline. Her last book, The Inheritor's Powder, was recently serialised on BBC Radio 4 as a Book of the Week and she has just sold the television rights to her first book, The Medical Detective.

Sandra is considering setting up a service for people who would like their family history written by a professional author. Do you think there is a market for this? If you have a few minutes to spare, Sandra would be grateful if you would fill in a short questionnaire. In return, if you give her a timeline for one of your ancestors (birth, marriage, death, dates, census information, etc) and any other details that you have, she will write a short biography (around 750 words). Please contact Sandra Hempel at palewell@globalnet.co.uk and Sandra will email you the questionnaire.

Freedmen’s Bureau Project
A key American Civil-War era archive mentioning millions of African-American individuals will soon be accessible online for the first time. The Freedmen’s Bureau generated records when people who were slaves were given their freedom during the 1860s. Digitisation of this archive is just beginning and is expected to be finished by 2016.  Once complete it will give African-Americans a totally new insight into the lives of their forebears.  Ancestry research can be very challenging for those whose ancestors were enslaved. As well as the difficulties arising from widespread people displacement, before emancipation there were few official records mentioning individuals by name, as slaves were regarded as property. Their births, marriages and deaths were therefore not registered and they were not included in early censuses.  More details of the project, including how to become a volunteer transcriber, can be found at Discover Freedmen.

Can you help? A fireman in WW2
Do you know of a relative who was a Surrey fireman and served in the First World War? The Surrey Fire Museum Trust is researching information on any Surrey fireman who went on to serve in the armed forces during this conflict – and who were sadly ‘killed in action’. To date only a handful of such firemen has been identified, but the Museum team is sure that there will be many more. If you know of a former Surrey fireman who served in World War 1, please email surreyinthegreatwar@surreycc.gov.uk. The Surrey Fire Museum Trust is located at the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters in Reigate. For more on its search, see the Exploring Surrey's Past website.

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

Book Reviews

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

visit our Book Review Page.

Ezine Competitions and Winners

All competitions are subject to our Terms & Conditions as published on our website.

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

view competition winners.

Diary Dates

For a list of events visit GENEVA.

Ryedale Family History Group Open Day, 24 July 2015, North Yorkshire
Buckinghamshire Family History Society Open Day, 25 July 2015, Aylesbury
Chesterfield & District Family History Society Fair, 15 August 2015, Chesterfield
Lanarkshire Family History Society Fair, 22 August 2015, Motherwell
Stonehewer to Stanier Society Annual Get-together, 29 August 2015, Newcastle-under-Lyme
Cave Family History Society Annual Gathering, 5 September 2015, Rugby
Dyfed Family History Society Fair, 19 September 2015, Carmarthen
Society of Genealogists Open Day, 12 September 2015, London
Doncaster & District Family History Society Fair, 26 September 2015, Doncaster