British Army WWI Pension Records, 1914-1920: Surnames C-Z Now Available

Today Ancestry posted release two of the British Army WWI Pension Records,1914-1920. This completes the Pension Record Collection with just over one million records now available. Samples of these records can be found on the release one announcement here on the blog. 
To learn more about the British Army WWI Pension Records, read Sherry Irvine’s article from April 2007.

Photo Corner

Here are a couple more photos I’ve received that won’t fit in the Journal, but are too good to pass up.  Click on the images to enlarge them. –j.  Almira Jane Coleman Kennedy in 1929.

Contributed by Bill Kennedy, Chicago, Illinois
This is a photograph of my grandmother, Almira Jane Coleman Kennedy in 1929.


Kathryn Ellen Kenady, farm outside Butler, Bates County, Missouri, 1925Contributed by Richard Cutter, Monte Vista, Colorado
This is a photo of my mother, Kathryn Ellen Kenady, at the family farm in the summer of 1925. She lived in Kansas City but spent the summer with her uncle and aunt at a farm outside Butler, Bates County, Missouri that her great-grandfather, Isaac Kenady, opened in 1845. This was her favorite photo of her youth.

Ancestry Launches Largest Online Collection of Records Documenting Australia’s Convicted “Founding Fathers”

Ancestry logo1.bmp80 Years of 18th- and 19th-Century Australian Convict Records Reveal the Not-So-Criminal Crimes of Those Banished to the Land Down Under; British Transportation Practice Has Roots in America

PROVO, UTAH – July 25, 2007 – Stealing sheep or wool or cloth in 18th- and 19th-century England could land you a minimum seven-year sentence at an Australian penal colony, according to Ancestry’s newest online collection of Australian convicts records. For those interested in uncovering the criminal ancestors lurking in their past, the world’s largest online resource for family history today released the largest collection of Australian convict records, indexed and searchable online for the first time. Records detail the some 165,000 convicts transported to Australia from 1788 to 1868.

An estimated 22 percent of Australians are descended from these British exiles. Their sentences served, many convicts remained Down Under, becoming Australia’s first western settlers.

The British government deemed transportation, as the practice was known, just punishment for a mixed bag of crimes from marrying secretly to burning clothes. Although “felony,” “larceny” and “burglary” described the overwhelming majority of crimes, a few records include juicy details, such as, “obtaining money by false pretences,” “stealing heifers” and “privately stealing in a shop.” The convict records typically contain convict’s name, date and place of sentencing, length of sentence – usually 7 years, 14 years or life – and, sometimes, the crime committed.

“By today’s standards, many of these crimes are minor misdemeanors or are no longer illegal, and the severity of punishments seem ludicrous,” said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for “No wonder Australians consider a convict in their family tree a badge of honor and seek to uncover the amusing, quirky and outrageous details in their family’s ‘criminal’ past.” Continue reading

New at Ancestry

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Weekly Planner: Create a Master List of Surnames and Variations

When we’re searching databases for those hard to find ancestors, we often find ourselves rotating in any number of variations for that surname. It’s easy to lose track. Create a list of variants and keep it handy by your computer. Then just go down the list to get a more complete search than just entering names at random. It serves as a reminder so you don’t miss anything and also makes it easier to log what names and variations you’ve searched for.

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Tips from the Trail of Tobin Hatters, by Juliana Smith

Penitentiary, Blackwell Island, New YorkYesterday was one of those days where things just fell into place. Those of you who have been reading my columns for a while may remember me talking about my Tobin ancestors in past articles. Well, using passenger arrival records, obituaries, and some more unusual records, I stumbled upon some startling surprises and got a little more insight into this line.

The Tobin Hatters
My third great-grandfather, Thomas H. Tobin, was a hatter in New York City until around 1847 when he moved to Rochester, New York, and opened a hat shop there. One of my mom’s aunts had mentioned that he also had made a hat for Abraham Lincoln. (A tough story to prove, but interesting nonetheless.) She also said he had a brother Peter who was in the hat business, too.

There were several Tobin hatters (Peter, James, and George) that appeared in New York City directories at that time, and I’ve always wondered whether they were related in some way. There were plenty of similarities, particularly when it came to the areas where they set up shop, but I hadn’t yet organized my notes enough to prove any connections.

I started by pulling out notebooks with handwritten directory listings, censuses, and other assorted records I had collected on the Tobin hatters. I put the handwritten items into electronic format and organized them chronologically. Doing so brought out some links via shared addresses between Peter, James, and a William Tobin, who ran a porterhouse (tavern). Continue reading

Flip for Footage, by Maureen Taylor

In my mind, summer is the season for home video. Graduations, recitals, weddings, soccer tournaments, family outings, and vacations make this a perfect time to take moving images of family milestones. If you’re the average family photographer then you own at least one home movie recorder. This might be a dedicated video camera or a digital camera with an MPEG movie feature. My teenage kids take a lot of short clips using their cell phones.

About five years ago after years of resisting the trend, I finally purchased a video camera. It uses little tapes that are convenient to tote around and takes pretty good footage. At the time I thought, “I’ll buy the camera, download the footage, edit it, and share it with family.” It was a statement full of good intentions. Unfortunately I’m still looking for the right hook-up for my computer.

You’re probably wondering why I’m mentioning my failures as a home movie enthusiast. Well, recently I just bought a new camera. It wasn’t expensive, and I can either upload footage to my computer using the internal USB connection or view it on my television. It’s a dream come true for anyone that needs some quick footage. Did I mention it uses AA batteries and is so easy to operate even little kids and non-technical elders can “point and shoot.” It’s called the Flip. Pure Digital Technologies introduced it at the beginning of May, and it’s a sellout at local stores. Once I saw what it could do, I had to have one. (Pure Digital sells two versions of the device for less than two hundred dollars; one records for thirty minutes and the other for sixty minutes.) Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Russian Research, from George G. Morgan

If you are of Russian descent and have encountered little of substance in the resources on the Internet, you will be pleased to visit the Researching Russian Roots site. Here you will find introductory articles concerning how to start your Russian family history research, links to message boards, an extensive list of links to archives in Russia and their mailing/e-mail addresses, details and links for research in Ukraine and Belarus, some individual family trees, and a vast compilation of other Web links in the U.S. Some sites are in Russian (Cyrillic), but most of these offer English versions as well. If you’re researching your Russian roots, don’t miss this site.

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Your Quick Tips, 23 July 2007

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I don’t know if you have mentioned this yet as you advertise that the Iowa State Censuses are available, but I have found that the 1925 year is extremely helpful. This census year asked for the names of the person’s parents (including mother’s maiden name), age, and place where they married. People may miss this valuable information if they don’t click to view the original page where their ancestor is found on the census. This is a great source of information–thanks for making it available.

Melissa Mailander Curristan Continue reading