Newsletter - 31st October 2015
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 25th October) click here, for an index to articles from 2009-10 click here, for a list of articles from 2011 click here and for a list of articles from 2012-14 click here. Or do what I do, and use the customised Google search below (it only searches these newsletters, so you won't get spurious results):
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It's almost 7 years since the 1911 England & Wales census became available online, and we've got more than 6 years to wait before we'll see the 1921 Census - so it's a great time to launch the closest census substitute there is, the 1939 National Register. It's going live on Monday 2nd November, but I don't yet know what time - all I can tell you at the moment is that Findmypast staff will be working through Sunday night and into Monday morning (I suspect there's going to be a lot of caffeine & pizza consumed!).
Note: I'll update this newsletter as and when I get more information.
If you've been following Findmypast's blog you'll know that this has been an immense project, involving the scanning and transcription of 41 million entries on 1.4 million pages in 7,000 volumes. Unfortunately it has also been a very expensive project, and that's reflected in the cost: 60 credits per household, compared with only 40 credits for a household from the 1911 Census. As with the 1911 Census when it was first launched, the 1939 Register isn't included in any of the Findmypast subscriptions.
Whilst there has been inflation of 20% since 2009, I suspect that a more important factor in the increased cost is the need to conform with Data Protection legislation, which means that certain entries have to be hidden. As a result you'll initially only see information for people born over 100 years ago, or who died prior to the point in the 1990s when the paper register was computerised (by then it was being used as the National Health Service Central Register).
It's also worth bearing in mind that the cost of accessing the register online will be a small fraction of the £42 per household levied by the NHS Information Centre when access was first allowed under Freedom of Information legislation following a long battle by Guy Etchells and others (including yours truly).
Note: the good news is that whereas in the 1911 Census you could see only one household schedule, and therefore only one household, in the 1939 Register you'll see an entire page - or two pages if the household you purchased extends onto a second page. This will be particularly handy if some of the neighbours are also members of your family - or if they're people you remember from your childhood.
Buying credits 60 at a time is expensive - you'll pay a staggering £6.95 for each household that you view at the UK site (prices at other sites are in their local currencies). But buy 300 credits in one go and the price drops by 28% to a slightly more reasonable £4.99 - and you can save even more if you're a LostCousins member because the email you received telling you about this newsletter included a discount code.
Or, if you really want to push the boat out, buy 900 credits for £54.95 and the cost comes down to £3.66, not much more than the 1911 Census (since you couldn't buy more than 300 credits at a time when that was released). However many credits you buy, please use one of the links below.
Note: your discount code can only be used once, and it is only valid at the Findmypast site specified in the email (which has been selected according to your country of residence, as shown in my records). However it isn't a problem if you're registered at a different Findmypast site - you can log-in at any site using the same email address and password. Your code will expire on 16th November, so you've only got 2 weeks to use it.
Existing Findmypast subscribers may also receive a discount code direct from Findmypast - I certainly have - but you can't use both discount codes at the same time.
When you use one of the following links to buy credits you'll be supporting LostCousins (whether or not you use the discount code in my email, and whether you're buying 60 credits, 300 credits, or 900 credits):
If you get an error message when you enter
the discount code there are three possible reasons: you could be at the wrong Findmypast
site, you may have typed it incorrectly, or you might have entered it as a voucher (it
should be entered in the discount code box).
If you get an error message when you enter the discount code there are three possible reasons: you could be at the wrong Findmypast site, you may have typed it incorrectly, or you might have entered it as a voucher (it should be entered in the discount code box).
Tip: if the links don't work for you, please disable the adblocking extension in your browser (or use a different browser - I recommend Chrome, which is free to download and free to use).
Anyone who has used credits in the past will know how frustrating it is when you pay to see a record, only to discover that it's not the one you wanted - and that's why when we searched the 1911 Census we often looked at the transcription (which cost 10 credits), before paying for the image (another 30 credits).
Fortunately the chances of picking the wrong household in 1939 are extremely low, partly because you're much more likely to know the date of birth of a parent or grandparent (and the chances of there being two people with exactly the same name born on precisely the same day are pretty low), but also because before you use any of your precious credits you'll get to see a preview that looks something like this:
The individual shown in the preview will be the person you searched for - if you didn't name a specific person you'll see the head of household.
There are two ways to search - you can search for a person, or you can search for an address. But most of the time you'll want to search for a person, because you can include location information a person search if you want:
As you can see, the Search page looks very similar to the page we see when we search the 1911 Census at Findmypast, but with the addition of the Birthday field. All of the fields are optional, even the name - so you can start with a very broad search and narrow down by adding more information.
Tip: less is more when it comes to searching - the less information you enter on the Search form, the more results you'll get! Should you get too many results you can always add more information and try again.
Note that there are boxes on the form for the National Archives references - the piece number, and the item number. I suggest you record these for the households you purchase as they'll provide a quick way of finding the record again. And who knows, perhaps one day we'll add the 1939 Register to the list of censuses supported by LostCousins?
When you search by address there are far fewer boxes on the form:
I suspect that the address search will be used mainly by people who want to find out who was living in 'their' house in 1939, or who want to find out information about their neighbours. If I have some credits left over I'm certainly going to look at the house where I grew up - all the neighbours must be well over 100 by now (some of them seemed it at the time, though I expect they were younger than I am now!).
I understand that of the 41 million records, 28 million will be available to view on Monday - that's just over two-thirds of the total. Each week new records will be opened as the individuals concerned reach the age of 100 years and a day, or as a result of evidence being submitted to prove that they are deceased - my calculations suggest that on average around 1000 new records will be opened each week. I'll have to wait just over 6 months to see my father's record, but we won't be able to see the entire register until October 2039 - assuming we're still around (I'll be 89, and I know that half of you are older than I am).
Note: once you've paid to see a household you won't have to pay again, even when additional members of the household are revealed.
The National Archives will only open up a record for someone who was born less than 100 years ago if you can produce their death certificate. However, you don't need to send them the actual certificate - you can upload a scanned copy.
Note: although this requirement might seem onerous, it's a considerable improvement on the procedure imposed by the NHS Information Centre, which held the 1939 Register before the National Archives took responsibility - because, according to the information on their website "a death certificate may not, in itself, provide sufficient evidence."
Opening up a record not only makes it available to you, it makes it available to everyone else - so if you're still claiming your late granny's pension you might want to think twice!
Unfortunately, I don't believe there's a procedure that allows you to open up your own record - something that I know a lot of LostCousins members were looking forward to seeing - but you may be able to request a copy under the Data Protection Act. I'll provide more information about this when I have it.
I don't know the terms on which the National Archives licensed the register to Findmypast, but if the 1911 Census is anything to go by it could be 2 years or more before we see it at Ancestry (or anywhere else).
It's likely that at some point Findmypast will offer a subscription, but it's unlikely to be cheap - the cost of a subscription to the 1911 Census was £59.99
You'd think that the high price of accessing the records would keep down the demand, but of course it's free to search - and to be frank, it only seems expensive to us because we pay so little for other records. People who are new to world of family history might consider that, compared to the £9.25 cost of buying a birth certificate, the cost of accessing a household in the 1939 Register is quite cheap (and, after all, it's only the price of a bottle of wine).
So the Findmypast site will be a LOT busier than usual. On the other hand, we're not going to see the sort of debacle that dogged the release of the 1901 Census, and led to the site closing while they rewrote their software - Findmypast's software was updated to make it many times more efficient when the new website was launched last year. I suspect too, that they'll be able to add extra capacity to meet the demand - their parent company is in the IT business, after all.
Nevertheless, there will almost certainly be times when the site runs slowly - especially if it gets a mention on the morning news - so I'm going to make sure that I buy my credits BEFORE the launch (that way there will be one less thing that I need to do on Monday, and one less potential bottleneck).
In the last issue I mentioned that Myko Clelland from Findmypast
would be speaking about the register in
Peterborough - but almost immediately had to update the article with more dates as members wrote in to tell me about events planned in their area. I now have a complete list of Myko's tour dates:
4th November - The National Archives (Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU) - 12:30pm
4th November - Peterborough Family History Society (Salvation Army Citadel, Peterborough, PE1 2AU) - 7:30pm
5th November - Folkestone Family History Society (United Reform Church Hall, Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone, CT20 2QL) - 7:15pm
6th November - Gloucestershire Family History Society (Family History Centre, Clarence Row, Gloucester GL1 3AH) - 2:00pm
7th November - Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry (Birmingham & Midland Institute, Margaret Street, B3 3BS) -2:30pm
9th November - Bradford Family History Society (The Bradford Club, 1 Piece Hall Yard, Bradford, BD1 1PJ) - 7:00pm
11th November - Tameside Family History Society of Cheshire (Old Chapel Schoolrooms, Dukinfield, Cheshire SK16 4EN) - 7:00pm
12th November - Doncaster & District Family History Society (King Edward Road, Balby, Doncaster DN4 0NA) - 11:00am
13th November - Lincolnshire Family History Society (St. Peter & St. Paul Parish Centre, 2a Skellingthorpe Road, Lincoln LN6 7RB) - 2:30pm
14th November - Huddersfield & District Family History Fair (Cathedral House, St Thomas' Road, Huddersfield, HD1 3LG) - 11:30am
16th November - Otley Family History Day (Pool in Wharfedale Village Hall, Arthington Lane, Otley, LS21 1LG) - 10:30am
17th November - Barnsley Family History Society (Buckley Street Methodist Church Hall, Barnsley, S70 1JN) 7:00pm
18th November - Society of Genealogists (14 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road, London EC1M 7BA) - 2:00PM
18th November - Huntingdonshire Family History Society (Women's Institute Centre, Waldon Road, Huntingdon, PE29 3AZ) - 7:30pm
19th November - Somerset & Dorset FHS (Sherborne Family History Centre, The Parade, Cheap Street, Sherborne, DT9 3BJ) - 2:00pm
20th November - Cornwall Family History Society (18 Lemon Street, Truro, TR1 2LS) - 7:30pm
21st November - Devon Family History Society (Pollyfield Centre, East-the-Water, Bideford EX39 4BL) - 11:00am
23rd November - Shropshire Archives (Castle Gates, Shrewsbury SY1 2AQ) - 10:30am
23rd November - Wellington Library (Larkin Way, Wellington, Telford, TF1 1LX) - 2pm
24th November - Macclesfield Family History Society of Cheshire (Salvation Army Hall, off Churchill Way, Macclesfield SK11 6XD) - 7:30pm
25th November - National Library of Wales (Penglais Rd, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY23 3BU) - 1:15pm
26th November - Wiltshire Family History Society (Westbury Methodist Church Foyer, Station Road, Westbury BA13 3JD) - 7:15pm
28th November - Glamorgan FHS (Aberkenfig Resource Centre, Len Evans Centre, Heol Persondy, Aberkenfig, CF32 9RF) - 2:00pm
30th November - Cheshire Archives (Duke St, Chester, CH1 1RL) - 3:15pm
1st December - Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society (St Peter's Square, Manchester M2 5PD) - 11:00am & 1:30pm
2nd December - Mellor & Marple Bridge U3A (Marple Conservative Club, 119 Church Lane, Marple, Stockport, Cheshire, SK6 7AY) - 10:00am
3rd December - East London Local History Society (Latimer Church, Ernest Street, Stepney, London, E1 4LS) - 7:30pm
5th December - Stoke-on-Trent City Archives (City Central Library, Bethesda Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 3RS) - 11:00am
7th December - Gwent Family History Society (Newport Civic Centre, Newport, South Wales, NP20 4UR) - 7:00pm
8th December - Waltham Forest Family History Society (Spruce Hill Baptist Church hall, 155 Brookscroft Road, Walthamstow E17 4JP) - 8:00pm
9th December - Society of Genealogists (2nd date due to demand) (14 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road, London EC1M 7BA) -11:00am
10th December - Lancashire Family History Society (Astley Hall Coach House, Conference Room, Chorley PR7 1XA) - 1:00pm
11th December - Lancashire Family History Society (St. James Church Hall, Knowsley Street, PR1 3SA) 7:00pm
12th December - Cambridgeshire Family History Society (7 Lion Yard, Lion Yard, Cambridge CB2 3QD) - 2:00pm
6th January - Barwick in Elmet Historical Society (John Rylie Community Centre, Carrfield Road, Barwick in Elmet, Leeds, LS15 4JB) - 7:30pm
7th January - Rotherham Family History Society (Rotherham, Yorkshire) - 7:00pm
9th January - East Surrey Family History Society (he Vestry Hall, Richmond, 21 Paradise Road, Richmond, TW9 1SA) - 2:30pm
13th January - York Family History Society (New Earswick Indoor Bowls Club, Huntington Road, York, YO32 9PX) - 7:00pm
14th January - Pontefract Family History Society (Pontefract, Yorkshire) - 7:30pm
19th January - Hillingdon Family History Society & U3A (Hillingdon Baptist Church, 25 Hercies Road, Hillingdon, Middlesex, UB10 9LS) - 2:00pm
19th January - Wiltshire Family History Society (Nursteed Centre, Nursteed Road, Devizes SN10 3AH) - 7:30pm
20th January - Mid Norfolk Family History Society (Trinity Church Hall, Theatre Street, Dereham NR19 2EP) - 7:30pm
24th January - Anglo- Jewish Genealogical Society (West London Synagogue, 33 Seymour Pl, Marylebone, London W1H 5AP) - 3:00pm
27th January - East Surrey Family History Society (Lingfield & Dormansland Community Centre, High St, Lingfield, RH7 6AB) - 2:30pm
28th January - Wiltshire Family History Society (Gorse Hill Community Centre, Chapel Street, Gorse Hill, Swindon SN2 8DA) - 7:30pm
29th January - Leighton-Linslade U3A (Leighton Buzzard) - 10:00am
3rd-5th February - RootsTech (100 West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, United States)
For more information please Google the family history society or other organisation hosting the event. I believe that visitors will be welcome at all events, but please check first - and as capacity is limited you will need to reserve a place in advance.
Tip: if you're going to one of these events - or to any family history event - I'll be very happy to email you a one page PDF file with some brief details about LostCousins that you can print out to take with you (it's suitable for use either as an A4 poster, or as a handout). You can reach me at any of the LostCousins email addresses, including the one I used when telling you about this newsletter (which I hope is in your address book). Please specify the location and date when contacting me so that we can avoid duplication - you're unlikely to be the only LostCousins member there.
Covering the period 1876-1936, the Calendars of Confirmations and Inventories (as they're officially known) include 700,000 names, and are Scotland's equivalent of the National Probate Calendars for England & Wales, which have been available online at Ancestry for several years, and recently became available at Findmypast.
There's a very good article by Chris Paton about the Scottish Calendars in the latest issue (November) of Who Do You Think You Are? magazine - he recommends that if you're able to find the person you're looking for in the calendars your next step should be to look up the testament on the ScotlandsPeople website (where all surviving testaments from 1513-1925 have been digitised).
My great-great grandfather succumbed to phthisis pulmonalis according to his death certificate, as did my grandfather's first wife; my great-great grandmother's first husband died of consumption. These are diseases that we now know as tuberculosis, or TB.
My father survived TB, so did his only sibling - though a second bout took my Uncle Horace at the age of 25. In all there are a dozen relatives on my tree who I know to have died from tuberculosis, which may not sound a lot - until you consider that it's only after I've bought the death certificate that I know the cause of death.
I was reminded of the ravages of this terrible disease this week, when I read a World Health Organisation factsheet which reported that 9.6 million people around the world had contracted TB in 2014, of whom 1.5 million died - more than from any other infectious disease.
According to an article in online newspaper The Verge, Ancestry are seriously considering extending their DNA tests to include health-related factors - which could lead to them competing directly with 23andMe.
But will it also lead to an increase in the price? 23andMe offer a one-size fits all test - you pay for a health report whether you want it or not. If Ancestry go down the same route it could drive genealogists away - probably to Family Tree DNA.
Thanks to Dick Eastman for drawing my attention to this article in his blog.
Did you hear the story of 95 year-old Bill Palmer, from Southampton, who phoned his local radio station to say how lonely he was - and became a media sensation? You can hear his heart-warming story as it spilled out here, on the Radio Solent website.
I wonder if anyone has ever researched Bill's family tree?
Following the appeal in my last newsletter, which I understand produced some very useful leads, I was contacted by another TV production company - and this time it's the makers of Family Finders:
Are you about to be reunited with a family member for the first time in years?
BBC1's Family Finders is looking to hear from people who have lost touch with loved ones, and have managed to track them down, either independently or with the help of specialist agencies. Each programme will follow the process and detective work used by families and agencies as they hunt for lost relatives, and the cameras will be there to capture the moment as the two sides are reunited or meet each other for the very first time.
If your hard work and dedication to unlocking your family secrets is finally paying off, get in touch!
Call 01273 224 800 or email email@example.com to share your story.
On investigating further I discovered that they’re primarily looking for relatives who have not met yet (or are meeting up again, for the first time in years, for a special event), and who are 1st cousins or closer.
But wouldn't it great if there were to be a series about people discovering cousins they didn't know they have, simply by researching their family tree? I can even think of a great name for the programme.....
Following on from the TalkTalk scandal which I wrote about last time, I was shocked to hear that already this year nearly 5000 customers of Royal Bank of Scotland have lost money from their bank account as a result of scams - and the average loss is supposedly over £13,000 (although that doesn't quite fit with the £25m of total losses reported in this BBC article). And whilst banks try to be sympathetic - at least, that's what they claim - around 70% of RBS customers who fall prey to this 21st century fraud don't get a single penny back from the bank.
Quite frankly, the easiest way to avoid being conned by scammers is to avoid talking to them in the first place. Their 'patter' is very convincing and they know all the tricks - once they've got you on the line you'll find it hard to distinguish fact from fiction, because they've worked out in advance what to say if you come up with any objections or awkward questions (let's face it, they've done it many times before, so they certainly ought to be good at it).
Many of the scams depend on conning the 'mark' into transferring money from their bank account, supposedly to protect it against fraud. To put you at ease they'll typically suggest that you put the phone down, then call the number on the back of your bank card so that you can confirm that what they've told you is all above aboard - but in reality they stay on the line, so that when you think you're speaking to the bank's fraud department, you're actually speaking to the fraudsters themselves!
Tip: if you ever find yourself in this situation, make a call to a friend or relative before phoning the bank. That way not only can you make sure that your line is free, you can tell them what's going on and enlist their assistance if needed - two heads are better than one when there's big money at stake.
(Banks say that you should never give out information to people who phone you, yet when their own staff call you they expect you to prove your identity, when it should really be the other way round. One rule for the rich.....)
As I said earlier, they can't con you if you don't speak to them. If, like me, you've got a phone that intercepts incoming calls, 99.9% of scammers and spammers will simply put the phone down and go to the next number on their list.
Just when you think you've thought of everything, somebody points out that you've forgotten the most obvious thing of all!
Well, guess how I felt when, after describing in great detail in my last Tips column how the BT8500 phone blocks unwanted calls, it was pointed out that I hadn't explained that it would work with any phone line, not just BT lines. Doh! - to quote Homer Simpson (although it turns out the expression was inspired by a Laurel & Hardy movie).
So it cheered me up to receive an email from Sandra in which she told me that she'd bought one of the phones, and "like you we have not had an unwanted call since". I felt even better when she told me how "the list of rejected calls makes us laugh" because turning the tables on the spammers and scammers is what it's all about.
In the last issue I also mentioned two special exhibitions that are currently on in London, including one of EH Shepard's WW1 artwork, so I was particularly pleased to get an email from Steve recommending the exhibition of Lee Miller's WW2 photographs at the Imperial War Museum, which runs until 24th April 2016. When you're in London you might also want to visit the Science Museum to see Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age, said to be the biggest exhibition of Soviet-era cosmonautics ever held in one location (it includes Voshkod 1, a manned spacecraft, and about 150 other items). It continues until 13th March next year.
Finally, I mentioned recently that my wife and I are having to replace our kitchen - and as it's 32 years old, about time too! It'll be the first new kitchen I've ever had so any tips from readers who have been through the same process would be most welcome - what are the must-haves and must-avoids, and what are the snags that you only realise when it's too late?
12.30am The 1939 Register goes ONLINE - lots of handy tips on my special page.
Thanks for all the GREAT kitchen tips, keep them coming!!!!
Thanks for all the GREAT kitchen tips, keep them coming!!!!
© Copyright 2015 Peter Calver
Please do not copy any part of this newsletter without permission. However, you MAY link to this newsletter or email a link to your friends and relatives without asking for permission in advance - though why not invite them to join LostCousins instead, since standard membership, which includes this newsletter, is FREE?