Genealogy news round-up: Free Merchant Navy crew lists go online

By Jon Bauckham, 2 July 2015 - 4:13pm

A major database containing details of men who served in the Merchant Navy during the First World War has been uploaded to the web. Created thanks to a collaborative project between the National Maritime Museum and The National Archives, the resource provides the names, ages and ranks of over 750,000 seamen serving in 1915. As well as scans of the original documents, the database is also transcribed and fully searchable – the work of more than 400 volunteers over the past three years. Explore the records for free here.
 

Millions of criminal records go online

Researchers could discover black sheep lurking in their family tree following the digitisation of millions of historic records. Genealogy website Findmypast.co.uk has now added over 1.9 million criminal records to its online collections, revealing details of felons and their victims as far back as the 18th century. Fully searchable, the material – comprising 18 unique record sets – can provide users with details of their ancestors’ names, ages, addresses, the crimes they committed and the punishments they received. Find out more here.
 

Convict records and Irish newspapers hit Findmypast

In addition to the website’s new England and Wales criminal records (see above), Findmypast also released over 240,000 other historic documents on 26 June as part of its ongoing ‘Findmypast Friday’ campaign. Crucial additions include the Australia Convict and Absolute Pardons 1791-1867, which lists convicts pardoned by the governor of New South Wales, plus more than 308,000 new articles from historic Irish newspapers, some dating back to the 18th century.
 

New online genealogy course seeks students

The Society of Genealogists and Pharos Tutors have announced a new distance-learning course in family history. Starting in October, the Certificate of Family History Skills and Strategies (Advanced) builds on the intermediate programme the two organisations have been running together since 2010. Taught modules confirmed so far include ‘Old Handwriting’, ‘An Introduction to Medieval Genealogy’ and ‘Advanced Reports and Methods’. To learn more and submit an application, click here.
 

FamilySearch unveils major new updates

Mormon genealogy website FamilySearch has rolled out a series of updates to its interface that promises “fewer clicks and faster conclusions”. Major improvements include the ability to view document scans alongside index results, as well as the option to see a full transcript of the document when clicking to look at the scan in full. To find out more, click here.
 

New storage device raises questions about future of genealogy

A new hi-tech form of storage media could help future family historians trace their roots, according to one US genealogy blogger. Dick Eastman suggests that the sapphire disk – invented by French entrepreneurs Alain Rey and Farid Benzakour – could be used to store vital family tree information, with an estimated lifespan of more than a million years. The creators have launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the sapphire disk into production, which can be found here.
 

Pioneering railway atlas to be republished

The painstaking work of the oldest person to receive a PhD from Cambridge University is to be published later this month. Split into two volumes, The Railways of Great Britain: A Historical Atlas was compiled by the late Colonel Michael H Cobb, who undertook the research for his thesis, which he completed two years before his death in 2010 at the age of 93. Comprising over 640 pages of maps, the atlas plots every single railway line in Britain, both past and present. Although the work has been published before, this new edition – on sale from Monday 13 July at a price of £295 – features edits and improvements by Colonel Cobb’s son, Patrick. To find out more, click here.

Words: Ben Parr and Jon Bauckham

Millions of criminal records now available on Findmypast
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First World War Merchant Navy crew lists digitised
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Millions of criminal records now available on Findmypast
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First World War Merchant Navy crew lists digitised
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