- 26th May 2016
20% at Findmypast ENDS SATURDAY
The LostCousins newsletter is usually
published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 23rd May)
click here; to find earlier articles use the
customised Google search below (it only searches these newsletters, so you
won't get spurious results):
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Save 20% at Findmypast ENDS SATURDAY
From today until midnight (London time)
on Saturday 28th May you can save 20% on any new Findmypast 12 month
This offer applies at all of
Findmypast's international sites, and it's worth reminding you that all 12
month Britain and World subscriptions now include the 1939 Register, which is a
phenomenal resource for family historians who, like me, want to identity all
the twigs and branches. Remember that the 1939 Register isn't like a normal census,
a snapshot of the country on a single day - it continued to be updated (by hand)
for half a century.
Findmypast's offer isn't exclusive to
LostCousins, but you'll only be supporting LostCousins when you use the
Note: all World
subscriptions are the same, whichever site you subscribe through, and once you
have your subscription you can use it at any of the sites.
Of course there
are some records, such as censuses, that are also available at other sites but
most of the record sets aren't online at any other sites - for example, parish
registers for Cheshire, Devon, Hertfordshire, Plymouth & West Devon, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Westminster, most of East Kent,
large parts of Yorkshire,
and much of Wales
are exclusively at Findmypast. Findmypast also has partly indexed register
images for Lincolnshire,
whilst Leicestershire and Rutland parish registers will also be going online at
Findmypast later this year.
You can see a list
of all the record sets if you click the Search tab at any Findmypast site, choose A-Z of record sets from the drop-down menu, then click Show
list of everything.
It was a sad coincidence that
the Office for National Statistics chose to publish their response to the 2021
Census Consultation on Monday, just as my last newsletter was published.
I suppose it was predictable that they
would reject our plea for 'birthplace' to be added to the census in 2021, but
the manner in which they did it showed utter contempt for this country's
heritage - and for all of us who care about the legacy we will be leaving for
They constructed a scorecard to rate the
proposed additions to the census questionnaire on a scale that ran from 0 to
100, but did it in such a way that our request would inevitably get a poor
of the criteria was so perverse that words failed me when I saw it - we got 0
points out of 10 because the birthplace question wasn't asked in the 2011 Census,
even though it's because the question hasn't been asked since 1951 that
it's so important to include it in 2021! Remember, the 2021 Census could well
be the last conventional census - but even if it isn't, there are many people
born after 1951 who simply won't be around in 2031.
We also got 0 points out 10 because the birthplace
question isn't included in the Scotland and Northern Ireland censuses. But how do
they know what the questions will be in those other censuses? To the best of my
knowledge the other countries in the United Kingdom haven't finalised their
2021 questionnaires, and in any case nobody knows whether Scotland will still be
part of the UK in 2021 (it could well depend on the result of next month's EU
referendum). I suspect that if England & Wales were to add the birthplace
question the other countries would follow - but even if they don't, why deprive
our English and Welsh descendants of this vital information.
We got 2 out of 30 for 'purpose' because
the birthplace information will be of little value to most users of ONS data. This
is hardly surprising, considering that genealogists only get access to censuses
when they are more than 100 years old, by which time they have been transferred
from the ONS to the National Archives - perhaps this is why the ONS don't care
a fig about us.
Incidentally, the ONS tried to minimise the
contribution of genealogists by suggesting that you were simply doing what I told
you in my newsletter:
It's true that in my newsletter I did my
best to guide you through a complicated document which was largely irrelevant
to non-statisticians but, as you may recall, I ended by saying that "It's
very important that the views expressed, and the wording you use, are your own".
You can read the consultation response
in detail if you follow this link.
I'd like to once again thank the hundreds of members who took part, and
congratulate those of you whose comments have been quoted.
What concerns me most about the way that
our request has been treated by the Office for National Statistics is their
total lack of concern for the heritage value of the records - it simply isn't a
factor in their decision.
I believe that's wrong - if we're
spending half a billion pounds of public money, shouldn't we consider all the
potential benefits that might accrue to the nation?
We're not asking for anything
revolutionary - birthplaces were recorded on censuses from 1851-1951, and that information
has been invaluable to family historians in the past, even though it wasn't
collected with family historians in mind. If the 2021 Census does turn out to be
the last of its kind then the failure to collect birthplace information will
surely be seen by future generations as extreme carelessness, if not wilful
I'm not a great believer in petitions,
but it may be that there is no other way to get the government to take this
matter seriously. Do you have a better suggestion?
Vision of Britain is a site that
I've been aware of for some years, so I was surprised to discover that I hadn't
written about it in the newsletter. It brings together historical maps, reports
and statistics to present a picture of the nation over the past two centuries.
LostCousins member Paula wrote to me
this week asking for advice about online trees:
"I have an Ancestry family tree and
have noticed a couple of people have 'harvested' sections of my family and
placed them on their trees - photos and all.
However I have been unable to find out how they are actually connected
to my tree and I have not had any response to emails to them asking this question. I have been through the Ancestry info but
there doesn't seem to be an FAQ for this this specific issue."
Sadly experiences like Paula's are far
too common - there are far too many people who will happily take chunks of
other researchers' trees and incorporate them into their own without asking permission and without carrying
out adequate checks.
There's a very simple solution: DON'T
publish your tree online. Have an online tree by all means, but keep it private
so that people who think they might be related have to contact you in order to
all trees at Findmypast and Genes Reunited are private, but at Ancestry you can
choose whether your tree is public or private. At LostCousins we don't have
trees, and nobody else can see what you enter on your My Ancestors page.
In the last newsletter I mentioned that
until Monday 30th May you could upload your tree to Findmypast, and get free access
to any records which were referred to in hints.
I ended the article by saying that
"There's an area on the LostCousins forum where
you can post your comments and suggestions (if you're a forum member) or read
what others have to say (if you're not) - you'll find it here."
Clearly not everyone took that
suggestion to heart - I received several emails from members complaining that
they'd uploaded their trees, but hadn't got any hints, even though this was an
issue that had been covered in the forum discussion.
The reality is that
comparing thousands of individuals in a family tree against billions of records
in the Findmypast database takes time - and when there are thousands of others
trying to do the same thing at the same time, it takes even longer. To provide
users with the best experience Findmypast search for record matches only when
their systems have spare capacity - this enables them to devote a lot to computer
time to the automated searches without impacting on the performance of the site
for users who are looking up records themselves.
I tested out the hints
feature extensively last weekend, when I was writing my newsletter, and at that
time the delay was minimal - so short that I didn't think to mention it in the
article - but once the free period began on at 9am on Monday the demands on
Findmypast's system increased many times, forcing them put trees waiting for
hints into a queue.
Note: I tried to upload one of my other trees yesterday morning,
but got an error message; later in the day I received an email from Findmypast
suggesting that I try again, and the second time it worked. So if you also got
an error, it's worth trying again.
Last week I had a meeting with the Managing
Director of Rocha Brava, the beautiful Algarve resort which hosted Genealogy in the Sunshine in 2014 and
2015, and will hopefully be the venue for 2017.
I can't give you a firm date at the
moment, not least because I'm waiting for formal confirmation that Who Do You Think You Are? Live will take
place between 6-8th April, as indicated on Facebook.
However, I can tell you that we're currently looking at the last week of March
for Genealogy in the Sunshine 2017, ie Saturday 25th March to Saturday 1st April - so you might
want to pencil all these dates into your 2017 diary!
In the last issue I commented that it
wasn't possible to pick up messages remotely using BT's 1571 service. This is
true for the basic 1571 service, but I have been reminded that there is an
advanced option which does allow you to check your messages when you're not at
home. However since this service currently costs £3.95 per month it's an
expensive solution - and so it certainly doesn't change my advice.
This is where any last minute updates
and corrections will be highlighted - if you think you've spotted an error (sadly
I'm not infallible), reload the newsletter (press Ctrl-F5) then check here before writing to me, in case
someone else has beaten you to it......
That's all I've got for you in this special,
extra issue - I'll be back next month with more news from the wonderful world
of family history.
© Copyright 2016 Peter Calver
do not copy any part of this newsletter without permission. However, you MAY
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