Category Archives: Odds & ends

Who Do You Think You Are? New Series

A new series of Who Do You Think You Are? starts tonight at 9pm on BBC1. The celebrities to be featured are:

  • Rory Bremner
  • Fiona Bruce
  • Rick Stein
  • Zoe Wanamaker
  • Kevin Whately

and you can see the “teasers” about them on the series’ website at Past series have managed to find a celebrity to fit into the English, Scottish, Irish, Afro-Caribbean, Asian, Military, Jewish and aristocratic research categories. Who’s going to fit into each slot this time?

And will this new series lead to a further flush of enthusiastic newcomers starting to research their family trees?

The world of online genealogy has changed dramatically since the first series, broadcast in 2004, caused delays to the GRO’s online ordering service and the amount of media coverage given to the commercial outfits has grown.

But what about the family history societies? In theory the big Who Do You Think You Are? Live show at Olympia at the end of February should help them tap into this new audience, but in practice the number of “traditional” societies attending seems to be declining. Gossip suggests that this is because the costs are too high. How can smaller societies connect with new researchers? What is your society doing? Should they even try?


It’s amazing what you come across…

I was in the Hyde Park Family History Centre in London yesterday doing some research, and went for a walk to stretch my legs.
A few yards up the road I came across this

a plaque to the 1956 Hungarian Uprising in the wall of 55 Exhibition Road, just opposite Imperial College.

After a lot of digging I’ve discovered that it was sculpted by Frank Kovacs and was unveiled by Lord Birdwood on 13 March 1960 when the building was a Polish Club.

The building still houses a Polish club and restaurant but why the Polish club… anyone know?


Early female aviators

Isn’t it typical – I start this blog full of good intentions and then work gets in the way.
However, I have been playing with a new database at Ancestry – the Royal Aero Club Aviators’ Certificates.
The Royal Aero Club was founded in 1901 and from 1910 issued Aviators Certificates, internationally recognised under the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. The Club was, and still is, responsible for control of all private and sporting flying in the UK.
This database contains about 28,000 index cards and 34 photograph albums of aviators who were issued with their flying licences (certificates) by the Royal Aero Club from 1910-1950. These included the first military and naval personnel to become pilots. The original records are now held by the Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon, London.
As I was playing, I noticed one or two women’s names and started to wonder if any of these early female aviators were Scottish. It turns out that there were 16 of them:
  • Miss Elizabeth Ann Roche Anderson, born 1908 Aug 18 in Dullatur
  • Miss Winifred Joyce Drinkwater, born 1913 Apr 11 in Waterfoot
  • Isabel Clare Drummond, born 1915 Dec 12 in Ardrossan
  • Miss Ivy Barbara Mary Forsyth, born 1905 Apr 24 in Inverness
  • Mary Coutts Gordon, born 1906 Oct 13 in St Andrews
  • Sheila MacDonald Green, born 1901 Feb 15 in Elgin
  • Maie Hardie, born 1893 Jan 14 in Kirkaldy
  • Mrs Eleanor Amalie Harper-Gow, born 1894 Jun 21 in Cupar
  • Miss Janet Hendry, born 1906 Oct 23 in Ardrossan,
  • Marjorie Emily Meredith Hunter, born 1908 Jun 22 in Kilmalcolm
  • Dorothy Millicent Kay, born 1911 Jan 3 in Edinburgh
  • The Hon Miss Mildred Katherine Leith, born 1894 Mar 22 in St Andrews
  • Mrs Henrietta Learmont MacEwan, born 1897 Jun 21 in Hurlet
  • Mrs Margaret Helen Saunders, born 1901 Jun 30 in Montrose
  • Shaw Annie Gillespie 1904 May 28 Uddingston
  • Mrs Mora Morton Weir, born 1896 Jan 16 in Tayport, Fife
and there’s photos of 12 of them.
Frustratingly, not one of then has an entry in either the Dictionary of National Biography or in Who Was Who.

What’s this blog all about?

Like most professional genealogists I come across lots of interesting titbits which are unrelated to my current task but which are worth sharing. I couldn’t come up with a way of incorporating these into my main website and thought a blog was the best option.
Like all genealogists, I’m also incurably curious so you can expect to see snippets of research, photos and comments about various websites I’ve come across.