Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Perfect Christmas Gifts for Genealogists

Christmas is fast approaching, so I thought that it would be useful to write about some items that would make  perfect gifts for the genealogist in your life. Some of the items will be quirky and fun, but most will be practical, and will prove to be useful for delving into family histories and recording the information found.

Let's start with the fun items. Amazon has a large selection of genealogy mugs and t-shirts available. They are generally well designed with amusing and witty slogans, and are ideal for any keen genealogist who likes to flaunt their hobby with pride.

While these gifts are thoughtful, you might want something that's a bit more practical. What about a family history gift box? These affordable presents allow the recipient to have the history of their surname researched by genealogy experts. Other variations of genealogy gift boxes include items such as photo albums to allow you organise your research. Some even include books offering advice on researching your family tree.

Of course, you could always buy a genealogy book separately. There are hundreds to choose from, of varying prices. My personal collection, including some that were given to me as gifts, have helped me immensely in my research. A good book on genealogy will prove to be invaluable to anybody who wants to find out more about their ancestry. One of my personal favourites is the companion to the popular television series Who Do You Think You Are? Fans of this show would be equally delighted to receive one of the series DVDs that are available.

One of the most useful Christmas genealogy gifts you can buy for a loved one is a good family tree software package. These are essential for conveniently organising research into one well designed and easily accessible place. They can store photographs, digitised images, and even audio and video files. They allow family trees to be constructed and shared across the web, and are an excellent tool for keeping track of family history data.

Whatever genealogy gift you choose to buy, I hope that it is well received, and I wish all my readers a very happy Christmas and New Year.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Free Credits at Find My Past

To celebrate 'Start Your Family Tree Week' from the 26th of December to the 1st of January, the website Find My Past is offering users 50 pay as you go credits, absolutely free! This is a great opportunity to view some census records or newspaper articles at no extra charge.

All you have to do is go here and click where it says "claim your credits now." Then just enter the code 
and the free credits will be yours.

Just make sure you do it quickly, because the code will expire on the 2nd of January 2013. Also, the credits will expire after 90 days, so use them up. (I'm sure you will)

Saturday, 8 December 2012

WDYTYA Series 9 - John Bishop

The long awaited tenth episode of series 9 of Who Do You Think You Are? aired on Thursday night (6th December). The ninth episode featuring John Barnes aired way back in October, so I'm not quite sure why the last episode was delayed for so long. Anyway, it featured Liverpudlian comedian John Bishop, and it lived up to the usual WDYTYA? high standards.

John first search of the records revealed that his great-great grandfather, Charles Bishop from Paddington in London, married his great-great-grandmother, Catherine Evitt of County Armagh, in 1852 in Montreal, Quebec. The records also revealed that Charles was a Lance Sergeant in the Army when the marriage took place.

Further research into Charles' military records showed that he was only fourteen years old when he joined up. He served in Bermuda before moving to Canada. He also joined the military band before becoming the band Sergeant several years later. The final piece of information revealed by the records was that he ultimately bought himself out of the Army for a large some of money while his wife was pregnant.

The next stage in John's journey was to visit Chichester cathedral, where Charles was on probation as a lay vicar in the 1850s. This tied in with the information that John previously had, which was that Charles was listed as a lay vicar in the 1861 census. A lay vicar was essentially a singer in the choir, which makes sense based on Charles' musical background. Later on in the 1860s Charles moved to York cathedral, before becoming a travelling performer as a minstrel. John was amazed to read newspaper reports that his great-great grandfather had performed in some of the same theatres as he had himself.

This is just one more example of the lives of our ancestors resonating in the present. Here's looking forward to series 10 of Who Do You Think You Are?

Sunday, 2 December 2012 Advent Calendar

The good people at are embracing the spirit of Christmas by offering free tips and prizes on their special advent calendar page of their website. Each day there will be something of interest. If you missed yesterday's, the 1st of December, it was a competition to win a copy of the soundtrack to the film Quartet. Don't worry though, you can still enter right up until the 1st of January 2013.

Opening today's door reveals an exclusive video offering advice on searching birth, marriage, and death records. 

The advent calendar can be found here. Enjoy!