Archive for December, 2009

Ancestry.CA Completes Canadian Passenger Lists with Ocean Arrivals 1919-1924.

Canada’s leading family history website has completed the online launch of the Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935with records documenting the arrival into Canada of more than 750,000 individuals between 1919 and 1924.

The only online source for these records, now provides access to the largest collection of immigration records to Canada – more than eight million records in total – from the key growth period of 1865 to 1935.

The records from Ocean Arrivals, 1919-1924, the originals of which are held by the Library and Archives Canada, can be searched online at by ship name, port of departure, passenger name, birth year, gender and place, date and port of arrival.

The majority of the records originate from the ports of Quebec, St. John and Halifax, the key ports of entry at the time for ships coming from Europe, with the western ports of Vancouver and Victoria accounting for nearly 50,000 records of individual passengers, mainly from Australia and the Far East. Another several thousand records originate from Montreal, Sydney and North Sydney.

Unlike many of the passenger lists from before or after this period, the records from Ocean Arrivals, 1919-1924 consist of individual passenger manifests, as opposed to ship manifests.

As a result, the records provide many more personal details on arriving individuals than had previously been required, which reflects the ‘culture of fear’, mistrust and the overriding anti-foreign sentiment that existed in Canada during this post First World War period.

Because of the changing social and political global landscape, in 1919 the Canadian government introduced the Immigration Act, which was used to bar entry to anyone whose nation of origin had been an enemy to Canada during the First World War.

More significantly, the Act was also used to deny entry to groups of people whose ideologies were in conflict with that of the government of the time – specifically groups of individuals from countries with a growing socialist and anti-democratic bent. The requirements for admittance became much stricter, with immigration officials insisting on as many details as possible about entrants.

In addition to information about the ship and port of origin, incoming passengers were now also questioned about their religion, their reason for coming to Canada, how much money they had in their possession, their ability to read and if they had ever been declared insane or suffered from epilepsy or tuberculosis. Further, a physical description of the passenger was entered along with the passenger’s own signature.

Prior to this Act, people arriving from most of Western Europe were deemed acceptable for immigration into Canada, with others accepted into the country only if the government considered that their skills would be of use.

For example, with the desire to grow and populate Canada’s western frontiers, the government allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrants to arrive from Eastern European nations through the 1800s. These were people with the skills required to farm the land and endure the harsh climate and lifestyle of the yet untamed Prairies.

“The amount of information about the passengers in these records is almost unseen in any other immigration record worldwide,” said Karen Peterson, Marketing Director, “You can truly travel back in time and know exactly what your ancestors looked like when they arrived to start a new life in Canada, and know the reasons, from their own testament, as to why they came.

“By making this important collection of Canadian immigration records available online, everyone can now discover their personal family story, and also understand where and why it sits within the bigger story about our country’s history and growth, when so many came from around the world to start a new life in Canada.”

Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 database is available free in the SoG library and can subscribed to at home can be subscribed to at home

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The next big talking point amongst family historians, and which may well see divided opinions, is the Ministry of Justice consultation paper on the Government’s six options for the proposed changes to the edited Electoral Register for England and Wales.

A PDF of the consultation paper can be down loaded through the following link to the Ministry of Justice Website.

The edited register, sold by local authorities to various organizations and commercial companies, is used by genealogists largely engaged in tracing living people. This can include professionals and those heir hunters engaged in probate/intestacy and legal cases as well as hobbyists looking for cousins and one-name studies. Access to the register by genealogists is usually through commercial directory companies such as (and hence Findmypast) who make the edited register available online.

The Society would be interested in hearing opinions from members before drafting the SoG response in time for the February deadline. Anyone wishing to comment can contact  the Genealogist direct on or use the comments facility below.

The issues will again revolve round the balance drawn between the right of the individual to privacy against the use of publicly available data by family historians.

The paper sets out 6 policy options for consideration and comment  as listed below and gives relatively full arguments for and against each. Details can be found in the paper.

Options abolishing the Edited Register

Option 1: Abolish the Edited Register as soon as practicable.

Option 2: Set a timescale or ‘trigger point’ for abolition of the Edited Register.

Option 3: Abolish the Edited Register as soon as practicable, but extend access to the Full Register for other purposes to be decided in light of the consultation.

Options retaining the Edited Register

Option 4: Retain the Edited Register, but impose restrictions in legislation on who can purchase it and for what purposes.

Option 5: Replace the current ‘opt out’ provision with an ‘opt in’.

Option 6: Improve guidance for the public about the Edited Register.

Else Churchill, Genealogist

Society of Genealogists

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This database spans over 90 years from 1853 to 1943. The records provide a fascinating insight and invaluable resource to anyone researching the background of any family member who was a doctor, a dentist or midwife. The Familyrelatives website is available free at the SoG library

Copies of the Medical Directory from 1847 and the Medical Register from 1859 can also be found at the Society of Genealogists Library. In addition the Society of Genealogists has also published online for its members an index to what is possibly the earliest list known as the Medical Register 1779.  Compiled by Dr R J Hawkins, this surname index lists all those appearing in the rare 1779 Medical Register, a copy of which is held in the Society’s library. It is hoped to include scanned images of the register in due course.

A dedicated team at spent several months painstakingly scanning and indexing original medical registers allowing them to be searched on different criteria including surname, forename and date to provide one of the most comprehensive and accurate databases available.  The records pre-date the foundation in 1858 of the General Medical Council, set up in a back room of what is now the University of Worcester to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the community.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Sarah G…

Prior to 1858 anyone could call themselves a medical practitioner with some of the treatments worse than the disease and devices resembling ancient instruments of torture but it gave an insight into Victorian imagination  and ingenuity. The years 1853 to 1943 saw remarkable developments in the field of medicine and notable medical practitioners:

John Snow (1813-1858) – Discoverer of the means  or transmission  of Cholera

John Snow (1813-1858) – was voted in 2003 as the greatest Physician of all time some, 145 years after his death, for his evidence based investigation and tracing of Cholera in Soho in 1854. He was the first person to dispel the myth that Cholera was caused by miasma or poor air. He traced the source to a public hand water pump in Soho . Those who drunk from it were infected by bacteria although remarkably all those that worked in the nearby brewery (where water was heated and subject to a separate water source) were not affected.

Joseph Lister (1838-1912) Discovered Carbolic Acid (Antiseptic)

In 1865 Joseph Lister (1838-1912) discovered that by using carbolic acid as an antiseptic during surgery and by ensuring hygienic conditions in theatre and around patients greatly improved chances of survival.

Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) – His discovery saved 200 million people

Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) is arguably responsible for saving in excess of 200 million lives having in 1928 discovered the antibiotic-penicillin, which although accidental has been hailed by many as possibly the greatest advance in medicine. He was Knighted in 1944 and won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1945.

He was also recognized by being awarded the Honorary gold medal from the Royal College of Surgeons, received a fellowship from the University of London, a fellowship from Toronto, Philadelphia, and many other institutions including from Harvard, USA and from Spain. He is buried in St Pauls Cathedral, London.

Sir Ronald Ross (1857-1932) – Identified mosquitoes as the cause of malaria

Another Nobel Prize winner Sir Ronald Ross (1857-1932) identified the mosquito as the cause of malaria during his service in India and distinguished himself in tropical medicine and the prevention of malaria in Indian, Africa , Egypt , Cyprus and Mauritius

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