Genealogy news roundup: Findmypast adds Canadian censuses

By Rosemary Collins, 15 June 2017 - 2:24pm

Plus: FIBIS creates database of Bengal soldiers; Boots launches free online archive; First World War hospital records collection reaches 1 million

The 1881 census includes Timothy Eaton, the founder of Eaton's department store

The 1881 and 1891 Canadian censuses are now available for subscribers to family history website Findmypast (FMP) to view.

The collection features over 8.7 million census records, including details such as the person’s name, age, address, profession, marital status, date and place of birth and religion.

Among the notable individuals recorded in the census are architect John MacIntosh Lyle; early Hollywood film director Alfred Ernest Christie; and Timothy Eaton, the founder of Eaton’s department store.

The collection includes images of microfilms of the records, made in 1955 by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics. Unfortunately the original records were destroyed and some of the images are of poor quality, but FMP has provided notes to help understand them.

FIBIS creates database of Bengal soldiers

Details of almost 10,000 European soldiers who served in British India have been uploaded to the Families in British India Society (FIBIS) database website.

The information is taken from the Registers of Bengal Army European Soldiers for 1790-1839, held in the India Office Records at the British Library.

The transcribed records include the names, ranks and date of arrival in Bengal of enlisted men, including casualties. They were originally compiled at East India House, the headquarters of the East India Company, mainly from the muster rolls.

FIBIS hopes to add later years in the future.

Boots launches free online archive

High street pharmacy chain Boots has announced it is creating a new free online archive covering the history of the business.

The new digital archive, funded by a Wellcome Trust grant, holds around 20,000 items with plans to release around 100,000 in stages over the next four years.

The archive traces the history of Boots over almost 170 years, from when John Boot opened a small herbalist store in Nottingham in 1849.

To read our full news story, click here.

First World War hospital records collection reaches 1 million

Military genealogy website Forces War Records has announced that its collection of First World War military hospital admission and discharge registers now holds one million records.

The registers list each soldier’s name, rank, regiment and sub unit, age and completed years of service, dates of admission and discharge, details of his injury or illness, and whether he returned to the front, was moved to another hospital or died.

The majority of First World War medical records were subsequently destroyed, but a representative sample were kept by the Ministry of Health. They are now stored at The National Archives and form the basis of the Forces War Records collection.

Forces War Records’ UK-based team of over 70 experts worked for two years to transcribe the handwritten records.

Project to create ‘virtual visits’ to historic Wales 

Welsh academics have announced a new collaboration to recreate the experiences of European visitors to Wales in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 

The new website will be hosted by Bangor University, in partnership with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies (CAWCS), with funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. 

It follows a 2013 to 2017 collaboration between Bangor University, CAWCS, Swansea University, the National Library of Wales and Welsh museums. Researchers uncovered around 400 accounts of visits to Wales by travellers from Germany, France, Scandinavia, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic between 1750 and 2010, four times more than they were expecting. 

The project will illustrate the travellers’ accounts using new digital resources from the Royal Commission, including digital reconstructions and animations, gigapixel tours and augmented and virtual reality experiences, as well as historic images and modern photographs from the collections of the National Monuments Record of Wales.

Passchendaele commemorative pins go on sale

Brass shell fuses from the Battle of Passchendaele are being used to make commemorative poppy lapel pins for charity.

The designers, TMB Art Metal, are producing 60,083 pins, one for each British soldier killed in the battle, which began on 31 July 2017. Each pin comes in a lacquered wooden presentation box with a Certificate of Authenticity and a Commemorative Certificate for one of the soldiers.

The design of the pins is based on a real-life Flanders poppy from 1915, preserved in a diary belonging to Private Len Smith.

The pins are on sale for £39.99 each, with all profits going to the Royal British Legion, a charity dedicated to helping service men and women, veterans and their families. 

British Newspaper Archive reaches 20 million pages

The British Newspaper Archive (BNA) has now uploaded 20 million pages since it opened in 2011.

At the time of writing, the collection holds 20,062,692 pages of English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish local papers, dating from the early 18th to the early 21st centuries.

The newspapers which brought it past the 20 million mark were the 1855 and 1870 issues of the Oswestry Advertiser, a weekly local newspaper covering the counties of North Shropshire in England and Montgomeryshire in Wales.

The BNA offers a search function and sample content for free, with a range of pay-as-you-go and subscription packages to view all its content. The newspapers are also available to Findmypast subscribers.

Imperial War Museums unveils sound sculpture

Imperial War Museums (IWM) has unveiled its first contemporary art installation, a ‘sound sculpture’ to mark the 100th anniversary of RAF Duxford.

The sculpture, DX17, is similar in size to a Spitfire and was created by BAFTA-winning artist Nick Ryan.

It is covered in 100 lights and uses novel new technology to allow visitors to decode audible signals embedded in the lights by running a receiver over them. Each light triggers a recording of 100 stories from people based at RAF Duxford during its history.

The airfield at Duxford opened during the First World War and went on to play a vital role in the Second. It is now a museum, operated by IWM. DX17 will be on display at the site from 16 June until 30 September.

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