Census street indexes for England and Wales

Anyone who used to search the census returns for England and Wales at the old Family Records Centre in London before its closure in 2008 would have been used to the large binders of street indexes to the 1841-1891 census returns which were such a valuable finding aid.

The old Family Records Centre in Myddelton Street
The old Family Records Centre in Myddelton Street

Although we’re now all familiar with the various digitised versions of the census returns available online, it can still be almost impossible to find the people we’re looking for in the place we’re expecting to find them.

In the “good old days”, one possible solution was to check the census street index to find the folios covering a family’s last known address and then use that information to scroll through the relevant microfilmed census pages in the hope that the family had been mis-indexed or omitted from the index.

Until now, the only way to replicate this online was if you already knew the folio numbers concerned as only some of the online census providers allow address searches.

You can now search these census street indexes online. On 2 November, the Historical Streets Project from the Your Archives strand of The National Archives’ website added the street indexes for the 1841, 1851 and 1871 censuses.

There are limitations to these indexes:

only the larger towns are covered

the indexes are organised by Registration District – which doesn’t always equate to the parish or county where we would normally expect to find the street.

Go to http://yourarchives.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php?title=Your_Archives:Historical_Streets_Project to read more and try it out for yourself.


New look website and blog

I hope you like the new look website and blog combined.  I’ve even managed to include a link to my own personal family history pages!

It’s been frustrating me that they were all on separate sites, and all looked different.  Now at least this website and my blog have the same “look and feel”.  My personal research pages still look different, but at least they’re linked from here now.

If you look at the footer of this page, you’ll see that I’m now using WordPress to publish everything.  I’ve got to say that I’ve been very impressed with how easy it was to set everything up.  It’s taken an afternoon’s work to do a test install of the software; a final install; convert my old website and import my old blog postings and comments.

Before you start to wonder – no, I’ve no connection at all with WordPress – I’m just an impressed new user.


Some record offices to get free access to 1911 census

The National Archives (TNA) has just announced that seven record offices across England and Wales will get free access to the 1911 census for England and Wales.

The record offices are in:
  • Birmingham
  • Exeter
  • Aberystwyth
  • Manchester
  • Norwich
  • Nottingham
  • Newcastle upon Tyne

See http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/news/stories/337.htm?WT.hp=nf-37818 for the full story.

The full 1911 census is available on a pay-per-view basis through http://www.1911census.co.uk/
Still no news about when the 1911 records will be added to the findmypast.com site though.

Stirling ancestors?

If you’ve ancestors from Stirling you might find this useful.

The Old Town Cemetery in Stirling has just undergone a £1.7 million refurbishment. The Old Town Cemetery is at the Top of the Town in Stirling, just below the castle and the Esplanade of Stirling Castle forms its Eastern boundary.

The cemetery expanded outwards from the old Holy Rude Kirkyard between 1857-1859 and, unusually, it is laid out as a pleasure ground for the locals as well as a burial ground. The full story is in the Stirling Observer and there’s also a website for the cemetery which includes a map and details of some of the monuments and gravestones at http://www.oldtowncemetery.co.uk/index.html


Transcribing digital images

Thanks to Alex over at winging it, I’ve discovered some free software to help with transcribing text from the digitised images of records that we’re all using now

It’s called Transcript and displays the digitised image in the top half of the screen and an RTF text editor in the bottom half so it’s far easier to transcribe. You can even set it up to scroll down the image automatically every time you hit the “Enter” key or as the text wraps at the end of each line.

Guess what I’ve been doing today!


Scottish OPR burials are online

The Scottish Old Parish Register deaths and burials are now online – a day before planned. ScotlandsPeople has comprehensive guidance notes about these records on their site at http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/content/help/index.aspx?r=554&1353

And I’ve got a meeting in London tomorrow, and another commitment tomorrow night – rats!


Scottish OPR burials due online on 1 April

I was looking at the Glasgow-based newspaper The Herald for a Scottish take on the new London records released on Ancestry (covered in my previous post) when I came across this throwaway comment:

On April 1, the final tranche of the old parish registers, death records for the period 1553-1854, will go online.
Hurrah! Guess what I’ll be doing on Wednesday!

London Metropolitan Archives’ records start to go online at Ancestry

Indexes to, and digital images of, the records held by London Metropolitan Archives have started to appear online at Ancestry.

The whole collection spans over 400 years from the 1500s to the 1900s and covers parish baptism and marriage registers, burial registers, Bishops’ Transcripts, Non-conformist baptisms, marriages and burials, poor law Board of Guardians records, school admissions and discharge registers, electoral registers and poll books, land tax documents, Surrey marriage bonds and allegations, wills, transportation records from the Middlesex Sessions of the Peace, Diocesan marriage bonds and allegations, Diocesan divorce exhibita and City of London Freedoms. The full collection is due to appear gradually over the next year.

At the moment the online data covers the poor law Board of Guardians Births and Baptisms 1834-1934 and the poor law Board of Guardians Deaths and Burials collection 1834-1906. The London boroughs covered are:

Tower Hamlets

You will need either a premium or worldwide subscription to view the data.

See the full details at http://landing.ancestry.co.uk/lma/london.aspx


Italian family searching for relatives of the British soldier who saved their mother’s life

An Italian family is searching for relatives of a British soldier who saved their mother’s life during WWII.

In January 1944, the pregnant Maria Mancini from the Abruzzo region of Italy needed emergency medical treatment to save her life. A British soldier called Martin drove her to hospital in his jeep through snowstorms and across mined roads.

After an emergency cesearian section, Mrs Mancini gave birth to twin girls. Sadly one of them died a week later. Martin continued to visit Mrs Mancini in hospital, they became friends and he gave her a photo of his own two daughters.

Just after Mrs Mancini and her daughter were released from hospital, Martin was killed in action.

Mrs Mancini remembered and often told the story of Martin’s kindness and friendship to her family. Unfortunately she never knew his surname.

Her daughter, Angela, and her granddaughter are now searching for the two children in Martin’s photo.

Are you, or is one of your relatives, one of these girls. Check the photo and the full story on the Telegraph website at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/5049684/Family-seek-relatives-of-hero-British-soldier-who-saved-Italian-womans-life.html


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 http://www.bbc.co.uk/whodoyouthinkyouare/ 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?