Genealogy news round-up: Jewish First World War website launches

By Jon Bauckham, 7 July 2016 - 3:09pm

Plus: Findmypast appoints new interim CEO; Volunteers transcribe Kent memorial inscriptions; Ancestry reports post-Brexit surge; War films exhibition opens at IWM London

A new resource designed to honour the lives of Jewish Londoners involved in the First World War has launched online.

Unveiled at Bevis Marks Synagogue on Thursday 30 June, We Were There Too enables users to share and search for details of ancestors who served overseas and on the Home Front, ranging from soldiers to nurses.

The site also provides access to an array of historic photographs, video clips and documents, as well as a memorial wall that allows people to light a virtual Yahrzeit candle – traditionally lit on the anniversary of a loved one’s death.

Explore the website free of charge here.

Findmypast appoints new interim CEO

Findmypast has appointed former FamilySearch boss Jay Verkler as the company’s new interim CEO.

Mr Verkler, who spent a decade as both President and CEO of FamilySearch, said he would use the opportunity to “build on existing relationships and to establish new ones across the globe”.

The US entrepreneur will be a temporary replacement for Annelies van den Belt, who has stepped down from the position after three years – during which time she oversaw a major redesign of the Findmypast interface, and the acquisition of Mocavo.

Volunteers transcribe Kent memorial inscriptions

A unique collection of Kent memorial inscriptions has been made available to search online for the first time.

Transcribed by volunteers from Kent Archaeological Society, the records were created using information from heraldic ledger stones found on graves in Canterbury Cathedral, Rochester Cathedral and historic parish churches across the county.

Typically erected by middle-class families, the ledger stones were designed to record a wealth of information about the deceased, including details of their children, spouses and occupation.

As the writing on many old ledger stones has been damaged beyond recognition, the volunteers also utilised records kept by the likes of Nicholas Eyare Toke, who transcribed hundreds of Kent memorial inscriptions in the early 20th century.

Search the records here.

Ancestry reports post-Brexit surge

Genealogy giant Ancestry has reported a surge of activity following last month’s Brexit result.

In the week after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union was confirmed on Friday 24 June, the subscription site witnessed a 40 per cent increase in trial memberships and a 20 per cent spike in the number of users searching its Irish collections.

This has largely been attributed to a rise in Britons checking to see whether they are eligible to claim passports for other member EU countries.

“The question of British identity has been brought into focus for many because of the referendum," said Sue Moncur, Ancestry UK country manager.

“The spike in interest in people investigating their family history is likely linked to that, alongside a more general curiosity about European or international identity.”

War films exhibition opens at IWM London

A new exhibition exploring the history of war and cinema has opened at IWM London.

Unveiled to the public on Friday 1 July, Real to Reel: A Century of War Movies brings together an array of clips, costumes, props, scripts, sketches and unique artefacts from the Imperial War Museums collections.

Among the key subjects of the exhibition is the propaganda film The Battle of the Somme, which was seen by an estimated 20 million Britons upon its release in 1916.

Exhibition curator Laura Clouting said one of the aims of Real to Reel is to look at why “film-makers have been inspired to make war movies, how these stories are brought to life on screen, and their ability to influence our understanding of war".

Learn more about the exhibition here.

TV and Radio highlights: 8-14 July 2016
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TV and Radio highlights: 8-14 July 2016
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