Ancestry Blog The official blog of Ancestry Wed, 27 May 2015 23:05:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 AncestryDNA is Now Available in Australia and New Zealand Wed, 27 May 2015 23:05:51 +0000 Brian Gallagher Read more]]> 1badge_0000_CORPORATE BLOG (250x250)  V1

We are excited to announce that AncestryDNA is now available to purchase in Australia and New Zealand!

We sold our first DNA kit in the U.S. in 2012, and since then, hundreds of thousands of people in the US and the UK & Ireland have used AncestryDNA to discover more about their family history. Now you can too.

Why choose AncestryDNA?

AncestryDNA is for everyone! For many people, DNA testing is a starting point that opens the doors to your family story. If you have already researched your family tree, it can provide evidence that supports your research and helps you break down brick walls in your family tree. Learn where your ancestors may have come from, with a detailed estimate of your ethnicity. Our scientific breakthroughs allow us to map your ethnicity across 26 separate worldwide populations including Ireland, England, Europe, Scandinavia, Asia, and South and North Africa.

Discover relatives that you never knew existed with our DNA matching. If someone who shares your DNA has taken the test you could find yourself connecting with a 3rd or 4th cousin and learning about a new branch on your tree. All this combined with the billions of records and family trees available to search on Ancestry make AncestryDNA the ultimate family history tool on the market.

How does it work?

We have taken a very technical and scientific process and created a simple and easy to use test. First you order your kit and follow the instructions within. Then you send in your kit with a small saliva sample for our experts to analyse it for you. Once the analysis has been completed you can log into your secure online Ancestry account to view the results and discover your family story!

For more detailed information on AncestryDNA or to order your kit now, click here.

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Ask Ancestry Anne: Can I Trust Trees? Wed, 27 May 2015 18:38:30 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]>

Hello Anne,

I have a question related to using other people’s family trees on Ancestry.  This is an honest question born out of some struggles!

How do you know when and if their information is accurate?  Particularly when you are researching an ancestor that is new for you and the “hints” that are provided are from someone’s family tree.


This question comes up a lot.  You want to approach other people’s trees just like you would approach any record.

Think about a death certificate.  It can contain all sorts of information, such as a death date and location, birth date and location, and parents’ names.  How do you know if that information is correct?  The death date and location are likely to be correct, though not always, as that information was generally recorded close to the event and very likely by someone who was there.  But birth information and parents’ names? They could be right, they could be wrong.  You have to look at who the informant was and how the information compares to other information that you have.

You should evaluate someone else’s tree the same way.  First, what question are you trying to answer?  Maybe you want to know who the children of a person were. Or when the person was born. Or where.

The upcoming site update, which is being rolled out incrementally to our members, offers a new way to look at your sources.  (Note: You may not have seen this yet, but it is coming!  Read more at Sneak Peek of The New Ancestry Website!)

The new presentation makes it a little bit easier to see what the supporting documents for a fact are.

On the tree page, choose Facts.



Then click on the fact that you are evaluating.  If I want to know where the information for the birth date comes from, I can click on Birth.


I see that information came from the 1850, 1870, and 1880 censuses and Find A Grave.  I can click on the record, click VIEW, examine the details, and then view the actual record.   Always look at the supporting evidence!


When determining if the children are correct, look at each child individually.  Start with birth dates and locations.  Do they make sense? What supporting evidence is there?  And even if there isn’t supporting evidence on that tree, don’t assume those names are wrong.  Do some investigation on your own.  Can you find census records, vitals, or probates to support that parent-child relationship?

Don’t look at an entire tree or entry as being right or wrong. First, ask yourself, what question am I trying to answer?  Then look at the entry, see what evidence is available to answer that, and evaluate each piece of evidence on its own.

Go slow, examine everything, and keep looking to find more evidence that confirms or denies.  But don’t avoid trees!  There is some bad information out there, but there is also a whole lot of great research and plenty of documents for you to examine.  A really good genealogist looks at everything.

Happy searching!


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Records from the Jersey Archive in the Channel Islands go online for the first time. Fri, 22 May 2015 11:42:14 +0000 Brian Gallagher Read more]]>


We are very excited to bring you two new collections as part of our web search initiative. The Jersey, Channel Islands, Wills and Testaments collection covering the years 1663-1948 and The Jersey, Channel Islands, Occupation Registration Cards from World War Two covering the years 1940-1945. Both these collections will be of enormous benefit to anyone who is eager to learn more about their Jersey family history. Some of the most common surnames found in these collections include, De Gruchy, Renouf, Hamon, Amy, Bisson, Querée, Le Brocq, Le Marquand, Le Cornu, and De La Haye.


It is the first time, as part of a major digitisation project, that Jersey Archive has uploaded images of its entire collection of registration cards from the occupation of Jersey during World War Two.


The documents have previously only been viewable by visiting Jersey Archive, but Jersey Heritage recognised that many descendants of those Islanders who lived through the occupation by German forces between 1940 and 1945 now live overseas, in the UK and as far away as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Now anyone wishing to research their Jersey family history can do so from the comfort of home.


Linda Romeril, Head of Archives and Collections at Jersey Heritage said, ‘We have an astonishing collection of documents and official records that have until now only been accessible to people who physically visit the Archive. Over the past few years we have worked tirelessly to bring that data into the 21st century by digitising it and making it available to search.’


The Occupation Record Cards consist of approximately 61,000 records, with more than 90,000 images and offer a unique pictorial record of over 30,000 people who lived in the Island during the occupation.  The importance of this particular set of records was recognised in 2011 by their inscription into the United Nations, Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) UK Memory of the World Register.  The register embodies some of the most pivotal moments and periods that have shaped the UK and Great Britain. 


You can follow Jersey Heritage here on Twitter.

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How Corsets Evolved in 1800s-1900s Women’s Fashion Thu, 21 May 2015 12:00:22 +0000 Betty Shubert Read more]]> We are fast approaching the summer season, which means shorts, ,and sandals. But you may not know that no matter the season, some of our female ancestors had to wear tightly laced corsets, numerous petticoats, hoops, and later bustles, all before modern air conditioning. Can you imagine?

I’m reminded of the scene in Gone With the Wind in which Scarlett O’Hara and all the lady guests retreated in mid-afternoon to loosen their corsets and rest before dressing again for the evening. (Perhaps that’s where the expression “Let’s take a breather” originated.)

To better understand how women’s corsets and shapes changed from the 1800s to the 1900s, see the helpful guide below:

Excerpted from the book OUT-OF-STYLE © copyright 2013 Betty Kreisel Shubert All rights reserved

Excerpted from the book OUT-OF-STYLE © copyright 2013 Betty Kreisel Shubert
All rights reserved

At the turn of the 20th century, in an effort to reduce the damaging pressure on internal organs caused by tight corsets that indented into the ribcage, a female doctor created a newly shaped corset. It was completely flat from under the bust to a deep “V” several inches below the waist, curving up to the back. This created the recognizable S-Curve silhouette of the early 20th century, also known as the “pouter pigeon” look.

For centuries, corsets had squashed, confined, and supported breasts and there had been no need for separate breast supports. However, after the S-Curve corset left them without support, it inadvertently created the birth of the brassiere.

The evolution of Women’s Liberation is evidenced by the gradual abandonment of tight corsets in the early 20th century. After women won the right to vote in 1920,  they no longer wore corsets with attached garters to hold up stockings. These new free-spirits called flappers opted for round, elastic garters.

You can see how the body shape of women changed dramatically in the 1910s-1920s, as women tossed the corsets and chose a more natural silhouette.

Page 226 from OOS_CS_Rev_1_ISBN_9780983576198-2

Excerpted from the book OUT-OF-STYLE © copyright 2013 Betty Kreisel Shubert
All rights reserved

And with summer just around the corner, most women are still grateful for that particular change in fashion.


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Where’s William? Finding New Clues in Old Evidence Wed, 20 May 2015 13:00:36 +0000 Ancestry Team Read more]]> By Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Loretto Dennis Szucs, Genealogist

I have been researching my husband’s family and have hit a roadblock. His great-great-great grandfather, William Weikert, came to America from Germany and settled in a community about 30 miles from us. I know he was born September 1817. I have a copy of his naturalization record; however, the writing is difficult to read and at the time he was naturalized, no supporting documents were required, such as affidavits or family history. I don’t know where to go from here, since it’s difficult to read the area in Germany he was from…I can’t tell if it was Baden or Bavaria or some other province. He is recorded in Muscatine County, Iowa, as being married in 1848. They were Catholic. Any suggestions? —Angie

 Dear Angie,

Beginning with the information you provided, we checked records that have the best potential for leading us to William Weikert’s place of origin in Germany.  You may have looked into these resources, but experience tells us that it pays to revisit the information you’ve collected and analyze it with new eyes.

Instead of focusing entirely on William Weikert, we wanted to learn more about his family, acquaintances, and the Iowa communities where he lived.  Finding details about the lives of extended family members and even neighbors can often lead us back to common ancestors shared by different individuals on their separate family trees. We also wanted to see what was going on in Germany that might have prompted him to leave for America in 1817.  Immigrants were often part of a chain migration, sometimes leaving the homeland to join other family or community members who had already found a better life in the United States in a particular city or even a certain neighborhood. Understanding the push/pull migration patterns that motivated someone, often very poor, to move to an entirely new continent across the ocean is important because individuals rarely struck out on their own or headed to a specific location arbitrarily. Most were influenced by family members or others in their community. Sometimes, we can spend a lot of time looking for a single individual and come up empty; however, looking at the bigger picture and searching for other people who were part of your ancestor’s family or church or community is sometimes a very effective way to find your their origins. As a bonus, you’ll learn more about your ancestors’ lives along the way.

We began by looking at William’s gravesite on Find A Grave. Headstones and death records can contain a surprising number of clues and bits of information about a person’s ancestry. On Find A Grave, we found a photo of William’s grave marker in Klein Cemetery, Moscow, Muscatine County, Iowa. In 2007, the individual who submitted the photo added that William was born in the Rhineland-Pfalz area of Germany—an area too broad to be helpful. However, it would be wise to follow this lead to see where the individual found this information and if they have found anything more precise since 2007.

At Ancestry, we found an index card for William’s naturalization, but it contained very little biographical information.  It does verify that he was naturalized in Muscatine, Muscatine County, Iowa, on January 10, 1859.  The space provided for his “country of birth or allegiance” simply says “Germany.”  His witness at his naturalization was a person named J. Kaefner.  If we can find out more about Kaefner’s roots, this might shed some light on your ancestor’s origins and family members. We found a John Kaefner in several Muscatine records that indicate that he was from Bavaria.  It is certainly important for you to try to learn more about Mr. Kaefner.

In the United States, a federal census has been taken every ten years since 1790, and some states, including Iowa, took their own censuses between these decennial federal counts.  We looked at all available census records on Ancestry for the time William Weikert lived in Muscatine County, beginning with the 1850 federal census. Here, William shows up as “Wm Wickert,” age 34, born in Germany.  He is living with his wife, Anna M. (21, born Germany); son, John (2, born Iowa); daughter, Catherine (1, born Iowa); and a Conrad Miller (16, born Germany). Someone has made a note on the Ancestry index indicating that the correct spelling should be Weickert, a clear indication that others are working on William’s family.

 Huff Po 1

A detail of the 1850 federal census of the William Weikert family at Ancestry


The 1852 Iowa state census tells us only that there is a “Wm Wackart” living in Moscow, Muscatine, Iowa. The 1856 census form shows more detail: we find “William Wackart,” age 40 and born in Germany, living with his wife, “Annamatte,” who is 27, and four children in Moscow, Muscatine County. Looking at information provided about other individuals on the page of the 1856 census gives us a better idea of the makeup of the local population.  The farmer just above William gives his birthplace as Bavaria, and several others on the page simply give Germany. Historically, rich farming lands in Iowa attracted many Germans—the second-largest immigrant group to settle in Iowa.  The earliest Land Ownership Maps at Ancestry (1874) show that someone in the Weikert family owned farmland in Wilton Township, Muscatine County, from that time until the latest available map on the site (1916). It may be worthwhile looking into Iowa land deeds for more clues about William.

The 1860 federal census identifies “William Weikart,” living in Wilton Township, Muscatine, Iowa.  His birthplace is said to be “Bavaria/Bayern,” and five children are now living with him and his wife, “Anna M.”

 Huff Po 2

A detail of the 1860 federal census of the William Weikert family at Ancestry


After the censuses, we turned to a digitized book: A Portrait and Biographical Album of Muscatine County, Iowa. The book was published in 1889, well after William’s death, but county histories can contain helpful clues. One of the biographical sketches that caught our eye was for Henry Lang Sr., a settler of Wilton Township.  Mr. Lang was a native of Bavaria born in 1803 and who “resided in his native land until 1848.”  With his family, “he left his German home for Bremen, whence he sailed for Baltimore, Md. And was forty-two days on the ocean. His destination was Iowa.” Of course, we can’t jump to any conclusions, but these patterns could apply to William as well.  He may also have been one of the famous “Forty-Eighters”—a group who had participated in the violent revolutions of 1848 (also known as “The Spring of Nations” or “The Year of Revolution”), which affected 50 nations in Europe, including Germany. Many Germans who came to America at that time were from the upper classes and well educated and as such were not typical immigrants.

The same volume mentions the “St Joseph Mutual Aid Society organized in 1859 under the German-American Roman Catholic Aid Society,” which paid out $20 for funeral expenses and $3 per week for sick benefits. In some places, records like these have been preserved, and they often include birthplaces and other biographical details not found elsewhere.

The history of Muscatine County, Iowa, also includes a section about the Catholic Church in Muscatine.  If you can find William Weikert’s parish records in Muscatine, they could hold a wealth of clues.  If that church has been closed, you may be able to learn more from the Diocese of Davenport.  Other items you might find at the diocese level are old Catholic newspapers for the area, parish history booklets that list early settlers, and other unique collections that preserve the history of the Catholic Church in Muscatine County.

Perhaps the most promising clues will come from others who are researching the same family and have posted family trees and comments on Message Boards on GenForum/  In 2001, an individual posted a message that she had the probate files for William Weikert who died in 1863 in Muscatine County and “information on the marriages of his children.”  In a message posted in 2003, she was “still looking for” the German origin of William Weikert (1816–1863) of Moscow Township. He was married to “Anna Martha Moeller (1829–1915) and descendants still live in the county.” In 2010, on the same message board, another person posted: “William ‘Wilhelm’ Weikert, Born 18 Sept 1817 in Bavaria, Germany, died 13 March 1863 in Moscow, Iowa.” She added that she “would love to exchange any information.” We strongly encourage you to contact her!  If nothing else, you will have an ally in your quest.  Perhaps the two of you, as it turns out, will be related!

So, while we did not find William Weikert’s exact origins, we believe that taking the time to follow through on some of the clues we’ve provided in our column will lead you to even more information and ultimately to the answer you’re looking for.  More information may be found in family trees, DNA results, and new German record collections at Ancestry.  It might take a little time, but the journey through time and your trek through William’s fascinating homeland and his times promises to be an exciting adventure!

Do you have a mystery in your own family tree?  Or have you wondered what family history discoveries you could make with a DNA test? Send Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and his team of Ancestry experts your question at


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Who will survive the Victorian Workhouse? The final episode of 24 Hours in The Past airs tonight at 9pm on BBC One. Tue, 19 May 2015 17:27:11 +0000 Brian Gallagher Read more]]> The final and most challenging episode yet of 24 Hours in The Past sees six celebrities destitute and penniless in Victorian Britain. With no break since they were sacked from the potteries, they now have no food or shelter. In Victorian Britain that meant only one thing – the workhouse.


They are stripped of their belongings and their identities. Left wearing the workhouse uniforms and rough wooden shoes, the workhouse inmates are forced to work harder than they thought possible. It is a world of relentless punishment where the workhouse master deals harshly with anyone who breaks the rules.

With the men hitting rock bottom and the women refusing to share bathing water, morale is at an all-time low. Launching yet another rebellion, former minister for prisons Ann Widdecombe gets thrown into solitary confinement. The other inmates include actress Zoe Lucker, former world champion hurdler Colin Jackson, impressionist Alistair McGowan, Outnumbered actor Tyger Drew-Honey and presenter Miquita Oliver. When Colin Jackson admits that the work is too much for him, what hope do the others have!


Join us on Twitter tonight at 9pm and let us know your thoughts as the celebrities face their final challenging 24 Hours in The Past. Follow the hashtag #24hoursinthepast

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ABC’s of Commonly Used Nicknames (Q-Z) Tue, 19 May 2015 16:00:32 +0000 Jessica Murray Read more]]> Over the last few months, we ran a series of blog posts that highlighted nicknames or alternate first names your ancestors may have used. We’ve all seen at least one ancestor referred to by a nickname in a public record. Before you throw in the towel on that ancestor who has been eluding you, consider that he or she may have been using a a nickname or spelling reflective of their homeland, rather than the first name you’re expecting.Grass Letters Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

Today is the last in the series and features first names starting with letters Q-Z, although we were hard pressed to find any first names along with their respective nick names beginning with letter ‘Q,’ ‘X,’ and ‘Y.’

R – Female 
RebeccaReba, Becca, Becky
Rafaella/RalphaellaRaffi, Raffa
ReginaReggie, Gina
RhoanaRo, Ana
RhodesiaDicey, Roddie, Roddy
RobertaBobbie, Robbie, Bert
Rosabel/RosabellaBelle, Rosa, Rose, Roz
Rosalyn/RosalindaRosa, Rose, Linda, Roz
Roseann/RoseannaRose, Ann, Roz, Rosie
RosemaryRosie, Rose
RosettaRose, Rosie
Roxanne/RoxannaAnn, Rose, Roxie
R – Male 
RaphaelRalph, Rafe
RandallRan, Randy
RandolphRandy, Dolph
ReginaldReg, Reggie, Naldo, Renny
RichardDick, Dickon, Rich, Rick, Ricky
RobertBob, Dob, Dobbin, Hob, Hobkin, Rob, Robby, Bobby, Robin, Rupert
RoderickRodger, Roge, Rick, Ricky
Roger/RodgerRoge, Hodge, Rod, Rog
RolandLanny, Rollo, Rolly
RonaldRon, Ronny, Naldo
Rudolph/Rudolpho/RudolphusDolph, Olph, Rolf, Rudy
RussellRuss, Rusty
S – Female
SallySarah, Sadie
SarahSally, Sadie, Sal
Selina (Celina)Lena
ShirleyLee, Sherry, Shirl
SilviaSilvie, Sil, CeCe
Susan/Susannah/Suzanna/Susanna/SuzanneSue, Sukey, Susie, Hannah
S – Male
SamuelSam, Sammy
SeymourMorey, See
SheltonShelly, Shel, Tony
SheridanDan, Danny, Sher
SidneySid, Syd
Simon/SimeonSi, Sion
SolomonSal, Salmon, Saul, Sol, Solly, Zolly
Stephen/StevenSteve, Steph
SullivanSully, Van
SylvesterSi, Sly, Sy, Syl, Vester, Vet
T – Female
TalithaLitha, Letha, Telia
TheresaTerry, Tess, Tessie, Tessa, Thirza, Thursa, Tracy
T – Male
TheodoreTed, Teddy, Theo
ThomasTom, Thom, Tommy
TimothyTim, Timmy
TobiasToby, Bias
U – Female
UrsulaUrsie, Ursl, Ursy, Uschi
U – Male
UlyssesUly, U
UriahRiah, Urie
V – Female
ValentineFelty, Tina, Val
VanessaNessa, Essa, Vanna
VeronicaFranky, Frony, Ron, Ronnie, Ronna, Vonnie
VictoriaVicky, Vic
VirginiaGinger, Ginny, Jane, Jennie, Virgy
VirjeanJean, Virgy
V – Male 
Vincent/VinsonVince, Vin, Vinny
W – Female
WinifredWinnie, Winnet, Freddie
WilhelminaFreddie, Minnie, Winnet, Winnie
W – Male
WalterWalt, Wally
Wilber/WilburWill, variant of Gilbert
WilfredWill, Willie, Fred
WilliamWill, Willie, Bill, Billy, sometimes Bell or Bela
WinfieldWin, Winny, Field
WoodrowWood, Woody, Drew
Z – Male
Zachary/ZachariahZach, Zachy, Zeke
ZedediahZed, Diah, Dyer

Have any first names starting with Q-Z that we’ve missed? Leave a note in the comments below and we’ll add it to our list, which we’ll compile as a free PDF and make available to download in our Ancestry Learning Center in the coming weeks.

You can see the list of other nicknames in this series here,





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How AncestryDNA added new life to my family history research. AncestryDNA – Coming Soon to Australia. Fri, 15 May 2015 23:27:03 +0000 Brian Gallagher Read more]]> 1ComingSoon

I am privileged to work for a company that genuinely makes a difference to the lives of many thousands of people around the world. I have seen first-hand the breakthroughs, connections and family reunions that have been made possible by the records and trees available on Ancestry. Obviously, like many of you, I have used Ancestry to research my own family tree. I am Irish and my family has not left our home place for as far back as I can research, given the limitations of Irish records. Many of my grandparents’ siblings did leave. They traveled, as many Irish emigrants did, across the globe to the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. As a consequence I am more familiar with being found, than I am with finding others. Year after year throughout my childhood and in recent years too, family after family would arrive in Ireland to see the house where their ancestors were born and from which they had to leave in order to find a future in a foreign land. Thanks to resources like Ancestry these families were able to trace their family history right to my doorstep.

Being unable to go further back than I have with records, I have been anticipating the launch of AncestryDNA to see if it can give me that sense of discovery that I had seen so many times on the faces of my relatives as they returned to the birthplace of their ancestors. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from my AncestryDNA results. My parents are both Irish, as are their parents and their parents before them. Would it tell me anything?

After carefully reading the instructions, providing my saliva sample and activating my kit on the Ancestry website; I waited. When I got the notification email to advise the results were back I was a little nervous. What would they say? Am I 99% Irish as I suspected? Will I have any cousin matches? I rushed to open my Ancestry account and see my results.

To say I was overwhelmed was an understatement! It was difficult to take it all in at first glance. Not only did I have a cousin match, I had many cousin matches! I had expected to see matches at 4th cousin or more distant but I had a possible 3rd cousin match! Wow! I have since contacted this person and she is my mother’s second cousin. When I told my mother of this discovery, she was astounded. She was aware of her cousin’s name, but the families had lost touch many years ago and my mother had never met any member of that family. That changed yesterday when they spoke on the phone for over an hour. AncestryDNA made this reunion possible. What was previously just a name on a family tree is now a relationship in the real world.

I also had matches on my father’s side of the tree too, at 4th 5th and 6th cousin. I have not had the chance to go through all my cousin matches yet, I have over 50, but so far on my father’s side we have managed to finally find the answer to an old question. My father and a neighbour had always believed that our families were related, but neither of them knew how. Thanks to AncestryDNA I was able view the family tree of one of my matches in the United States and we have finally found out where the link is! My father could not believe that a simple saliva sample could hold the answer to a question he had been unable to find for decades.

Cousin matches are only half of the results process. AncestryDNA also gives you your ethnicity estimate. I was expecting to find out that I am somewhere around 95% Irish based on what I already know from my family tree. I was in for a surprise. I discovered that I am 85% Irish, 7% British, 4% Eastern European and some trace results from Scandinavia, Northwest Russia and Asia making up the remainder. Not what you might describe as a typical Irishman!

While AncestryDNA has answered many questions and solved some mysteries it has also raised new questions for my family history research. Not since I started my family tree have I been this excited about all the discoveries that lie ahead. I would recommend AncestryDNA to everyone who wants to learn more about their family history, not because I work for Ancestry, but because it is truly a revolutionary product that can take your research to the next level.

If you would like to learn more about AncestryDNA, or to add your name to our invite list, click here.

Once you taken the AncestryDNA test, please feel free to share your success stories with us on Facebook and Twitter .



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Newly digitised collection details the haunted drinking-holes of West Yorkshire in the United Kingdom Thu, 14 May 2015 13:30:07 +0000 Brian Gallagher Read more]]> The West Yorkshire Alehouse Licences Collection have been digitised for the first time and are exclusive to Ancestry


  • More than 75,000 historic alehouse records included in this newly digitised collection 
  • Haunted boozers include The Fleece Inn in Elland – home to a headless horseman named Old Leathery Coit
  • Other weird and wonderful pub names such as the Shoulder of Mutton and Golden Ball feature in the collection


The historic records of West Yorkshire’s most haunted pubs have been published online for the very first time. We have digitised the records from the The West Yorkshire Alehouse Licences Collection and they detail the names of more than 75,000 landlords and their respective establishments. Each record states the name of the landlord, residence, date and location, date of birth, name of public house, date of license and city – allowing people both in the local area and wider afield to find out more about their local pubs. Interestingly these records also help uncover the history of some of the county’s most haunted hostelries.


The Fleece Inn in Elland is one such pub – home to multiple mysterious occurrences over the years. This includes a fight between a traveller and local conman in the late 19th Century, which saw one of the men bleed to death on the staircase of the establishment. Despite numerous attempts, nothing could remove the grisly stain and it became a prominent feature in the pub for many years to come. The grounds of The Fleece Inn also play host to Old Leathery Coit – a headless apparition in a battered leather coat that reportedly takes up a seat on a carriage pulled by equally headless horses. Numerous different landlords are listed for the pub over the years including John Edward Briggs in 1902.

Other establishments with similarly spooky stories in the local area include:


  • The Old White Lion – located in Bradford and appearing in the collection in 1910, this ale house is reportedly haunted by daredevil parachutist Lily Cove who was famed for launching herself out of hot air balloons and parachuting back down to earth. Things took a turn for the worse however when she fell out of her parachute and plummeted to the ground at a local show in 1906. Still showing signs of life, she was rushed to the Old White Lion but died at the scene. Locals still report sightings of Lily – especially on the anniversary of her death.


  • The Dog and Gun – This Keighley pub appears in the collection under the ownership of James Cowgill in 1903. Legend has it that an old woman pig farmer was run over by a horse and cart on her way to the pub one evening and died shortly afterwards in one of the upstairs bedrooms. She now haunts the premises, taking a particular liking to the repositioning of ornaments and regular smashing of crockery.


Haunted or not, a parliamentary act of 1551 required alehouses to be licenced annually. Landlords were required to enter into a bond with the court in which they promised to keep their establishments under good order and not allow unlawful games to be played. These recognisances were made redundant in 1828 and licensing laws lapsed significantly until stricter legislation was brought in via the Licensing Act of 1872. As well as scary stories, the collection goes on to reveal some of the weird and wonderful names given to local pubs in the West Yorkshire area. This includes the New Dusty Miller Inn in Wakefield, the Golden Ball of Pontefract and even the rather unappetisingly-titled Shoulder of Mutton in Gomersal.


Digitised from original records held at West Yorkshire Archives Service, The West Yorkshire Occupation Collection 1627-1962 is now available exclusively online at Ancestry. As well as alehouse records, the collection includes over 6,700 apprentice records and nearly 45,000 occupation records, perfect for helping local people find out more about their local heritage.


“Public houses played an important part in the local community, hosting all kinds of activities such as social and sporting events, legal meetings such as coroners’ inquests and some court cases, radical and political meetings.  Many were also key stops on the coaching and rail network and offered accommodation.” Teresa Nixon of the West Yorkshire Archive Service said, “These records will open up a gold mine of West Yorkshire alehouse records and occupation records.”

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Preserving the Past: Old Family Photo Albums Thu, 14 May 2015 13:00:54 +0000 Denise May Levenick Read more]]> Guest Post by Denise May Levenick, The Family Curator

Before the digital photo book there was the Real Photo Album. You’re holding an “antique” if you inherited an old photo album with soft black paper and a hand-tied string binding. The prints might have been artfully arranged and placed on the page with paper photo corners, rubber cement, or old-fashioned school paste, or they may have been haphazardly stuck to random paper with cellophane tape. However it was assembled, your family photo album is fast becoming a rare Family Photo Albumfamily heirloom and well worth preserving for future generations.

Old photo albums were designed to accommodate the popular photo prints of the time: you’ll find large Victorian parlour albums for 19th century cabinet cards and smaller horizontal snapshot albums for 20th century black-and-white prints. Early albums often used a vertical format that neatly accommodated a single vertical cabinet card to the page, or a selection of multiple smaller cards . Later snapshot albums were often designed to showcase either vertical or horizontal prints or multiple prints per horizontal (or landscape) page.

Heavy card-mounted photographs such as cabinet cards or carte de visite photographs required sturdy album pages and a corresponding binding and cover. Beautiful ornate albums would have been a treasured keepsake and displayed with pride in a place of honor.

The popularity of consumer photography in the 20th century changed album design as well as photography. Snapshots could be mounted on a variety of papers, leading to an entire industry of simple inexpensive photo albums. Many of these albums feature black construction-paper type pages bound together in a cardboard or leatherette cover with a hand-tied twisted cord.

First Aid for Old Photo Albums

The paper, cover, and other materials used in these albums is often fragile or deteriorating, but you can help prolong the life of your album with a few simple, inexpensive steps.

1. Handle With Care

It’s not surprising that improper handling is one of the greatest hazards to any heirloom. Be kind to your album:

• work on a clean, sturdy surface

• wash your hands or wear gloves to protect the paper and photos from oils in your skin

• use both hands to support the book when moving or storing

2. Digitize

Family photo albums are especially valuable because they can tell a story in the arrangement of the photos, as well as from the photo itself. Take time to photograph or scan each page of your album. Oversize album pages may be best digitized with a camera to minimize handling. Use a tripod and remote shutter release with your digital camera, or a document camera with a laptop computer. I like the HoverCam Solo 8 Document Camera to capture full-page TIFF format images of large album pages; view comparisons of scans vs. HoverCam images in my review of this device.

3. Preserve

Professional archivists recommend that photo albums only be dismantled as a last resort for preservation. Loose photographs can be placed in polyester photo sleeves and left in place in the album. Store albums flat in an acid-free, lignin-free archival box to protect from dust and light. Use acid-free interleaving tissue sparingly, being careful not to strain the binding by overstuffing the album. Find more tips at the National Archives website.

If you’re tempted to pry photos from album pages to check for identifying comments on the reverse side, you should know that you risk permanently damaging the photo or album page. Preserve the historic contents of the page by capturing a good digital image first, before attempting any photo removal.

Store your boxed album on a flat shelf in a cool, dark location with relatively consistent temperature and humidity. An interior closet in your home is a good place, but avoid the garage, attic, or basement.

4. Share

Do more than just scan and preserve your family photo book. Share a one-of-a-kind photo album with your family by creating a faithful reproduction copy using an online photo service like Shutterfly, Snapfish or MyCanvas. I’ve had good success with small-size books, like the “Desert Maneuvres 1942” photo album my father-in-law created while stationed in the Mojave Desert. You’ll need sharp print-quality scanned images of each page for your book. I recommend scanning at a resolution of 600 dpi in full color for black and white as well as color album pages. This will give you more flexibility in final output size of the album. Find complete step-by-step instructions in the project section of my book How to Archive Family Photos and examples of reproduction books at my website

About the Author

Denise May Levenick is a national speaker and author with a passion for preserving family keepsakes of all kinds. Denise inherited her first family archive from her grandmother in 2000 and is now the caretaker and curator of several family collections. She is the author of How to Archive Family Photos: A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize and Share Your Photos Digitally, with 25 Easy Keepsake Projects (FamilyTree Books, 2015) and How to Archive Family Keepsakes. Follow Denise and learn more about preserving and sharing family heirlooms at her blog,


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