Family History News Archives


Society of Genealogists Members Help in Genetic Genealogy Research

 

Members of the Society of Genealogists have been helping London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital  and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology with a genetic genealogy research project which aims at studying more than 80 families from the UK with a particular form of glaucoma called primary angle-closure glaucoma (PACG).

 

Having discovered how much is involved in compiling family trees Moorfields approached the Society of Genealogists for help in undertaking genealogical research, on the advice of one of its patients who had worked for the SoG some time ago and who is now coincidentally part of the clinical study into this condition.


The genealogists’ task was to identify other members of families who might be related to sufferers, firstly to enable further study into the idea that this form of the disease is genetically related and then to identify distant family members who might well be treatable. Having compiled an extended family history the medical teams can make contact with the more distant family members through existing patients. The project will be completed in early 2010 and has already shown that one in five first degree relatives of patients with PACG may also be at risk.

21 family historians volunteered from the Society of Genealogists, under the direction of the genealogy project leaders, Dr Geoff Swinfield and Diana Bouglas. Beginning in Summer 2008, extensive genealogical research has been needed to identify, expand and link together a number of extended family trees. The project has benefited from the volunteers’ genealogical skills and expertise as well as their extensive knowledge of family history sources both online and in record offices that can be used to compile family trees.

A highlight of the project was a special event at UCL in September called Glaucoma, Genes and Me which brought together the families who are currently taking part in the research with the medical teams who have been treating them and the genealogists who had helped trace the family trees. About 140 people took part in the event and it is thought to be the first such event of its kind in this field. Approximately half of the participants were patients, the rest were family members along with 8 of the genealogists who had helped in the project. One of the key objectives of the event was to discover, through group discussions, the areas of most importance to PACG patients and their families. This will enable future research to focus on those areas and improve patient care. The day included various presentations made by the medical team and the major charities which support people with Glaucoma along with the patients who are taking part in the study. The project and the event are sponsored by The Richard Desmond Charitable Trust via a grant from Fight for Sight, as well as the International Glaucoma Association.

Dr Geoff Swinfield rounded off the day with a presentation about the techniques and sources used by genealogists to compile family trees and trace living relatives. Many of the families who attended were fascinated by their family trees. Some were introduced to relatives they had never met before. Others brought along their own family history research and wanted help and guidance to take it further with which of course the Society of Genealogists is delighted to help.

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Free Open Day at the Society of Genealogists 26 October

 

The Society of Genealogists is hosting another of its popular free family history open days on Monday 26 October from 11am-4pm.

 

The Society is  usually closed to the public on Mondays so this is an extra opportunity to see how the Society works. The Open Day includes FREE tours of the  extensive library and family history collections which are housed on four floors as  well as exhibitions and advice on family history. The library will not not open for research but anyone who wishes to come back and use the library during normal opening hours receives, as part of their welcome gifts, a  free voucher for two  hours in the library as a day searcher.

The joining administration fee (usually £10) is waived for anyone who wants to become a member of the Society after the tours.

Tours run throughout the day and usually last about one hour. The last tour will start at 3.30pm. No need to book

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Free access to Ancestry’s London Records at the SoG

The SoG Library now gives free access to 18 million parish records from London parishes dating from 1538 to 1980 published online for the first through Ancestry.co.uk. Ancestry’s databases, usually available to subscribers at home, can be accessed in the SoG’s FREE Family History Community Access area  and on the computers in the Lower Library. Information about joining the Society of Genealogists can be found on our website .

Famous names mentioned in these records include Samuel Pepys, Oscar Wilde and Simon Cowell’s great-grandfather. Parish records an essential pre-19th century resource for UK  family history researchers and this online collection supplements the many thousands of copies and transcripts of local parish records held in the SoG Library and which are listed on the SoG’s free online Library Catalogue .

The database on Ancestry.co.uk  includes name indexes  for the christening and burial registers from 1813 and marriages from 1754. Images of the original London records both for the indexed periods and for earlier records are also freely available at the SoG via the Ancestry website.

The records are made available by Ancestry.co.uk in partnership with the City of London’s London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts . The collection details baptisms, marriages and burials which took place in more than 1,000 Greater London parishes between 1538 and 1980 and reveals the names and stories of those who lived through major events in the City’s history including the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London. The collection pre-dates Civil Registration – the government system established in 1837 to keep accurate records of citizens’ lives and the point at which record-keeping was both modernised and nationalised. The only way to trace a baptism, marriage or burial before the 19th century is through parish records.

The earliest records date back as far as 1538 when Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s Vicar General, issued an order that each parish was to keep a register detailing every baptism, marriage and burial it performed. This collection will be of huge significance to the estimated 33 million Brits[1] with ancestors who lived in or passed through London at some point in time, enabling them to trace their roots, whether to the City’s slums or its more affluent areas.

Samuel Pepys – The baptism of Pepys is recorded in the registers of St Bride, Fleet Street on the 3rd of March 1633. Pepys’ famed diary of London provides a valuable account of the Great Plague and the Great Fire.

3911744429 785db12b40 Free access to Ancestrys London Records at the SoG
cc Free access to Ancestrys London Records at the SoG photo credit: Captain Caps

Oscar Wilde – The marriage of ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ author to Constance Mary Lloyd is listed on the 29th of May 1884 in Paddington. It was just a year after this marriage that many believe Wilde became aware of his homosexuality after meeting a boy named Robbie Ross

Joseph Allerton Cowell – The baptism of the music producer Simon Cowell’s great-grandfather is listed in the registers of St John of Jerusalem, Hackney, on the 15th of March 1874. Like his father, Joseph was a rope and twine manufacturer by trade

Thomas Hardy – The marriage of the ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ author to Florence Dugdee at St Andrew, Enfield is recorded on the 10th of February 1914

Other famous names in the collection include Charles Dickens, John Keats and English chemist Michael Faraday.

The digitisation and indexing of these parish records allows an insight into the social trends linked to key history events such as a steady increase in marriages recorded from 1754 when Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act resulted in the abolition of the practise of common-law marriage, thus making it a requirement for couples to marry in a church.

The London Historical Records, 1500s-1900s, can be accessed directly at www.ancestry.co.uk/lma

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News for Family Historians on Proposed Changes at The National Archives

Natalie Ceeney Chief Exec of TNA and Jeff James Head of Operations faced a second packed public meeting on Thursday 20 August at The National Archives Kew Richmond Surrey England1 300x224 News for Family Historians on Proposed Changes at The National Archives National Archives. During this meeting Jeff outlined in more detail the proposal for charges to be made for using the car park from January 2010.  TNA is suggesting a daily charge of £5  for all users of the public car park with discounted season tickets being made available for regular visitors. The rationale behind this proposal is that the car park costs something over £80,000 per year to run and maintain  when overheads such as security, CCTV, building and maintenance etc are allocated.  Introducing charges could possibly bring in something over £90,000 towards overall  proposed savings of £4.2 million if the estimates of the future number of visitors who will use the car park and how much they are likely to spend come to pass.

Additionally Natalie and Jeff spent more time explaining their rationale behind someof the proposals and how their budgets work. In addition to the cuts made in operations and services attendees were told of some of the decisions that have had to be made on capital expenditure such as the  postponment of a new cooling plant to update the aging building and archives. Unless any alternative  suggestions about potential savings come  out of the consultation period it looks like the proposals  made in June will become finalised and acted upon. We will hear the final decisions at the next  public users’ forum to be held in Spetember. Minutes of the meeting and the dates of future meeting will be available on TNA website shortly.

Many genealogists and family historians use  the vast number of records  relating to family history held at The National Archives.

 

Else Churchill, Genealogist, Society of Genealogists

Special Family History Collections at the Society of Genealogists

kipling27 298x300 Special Family History Collections at the Society of GenealogistsSome of the most important items in the library of the Society of Genealogists are to be found in the mansuscripts  in the Special Collections. Housed in thousands of boxes, these collections often represent the life work of a genealogist who has researched many different families. Sometimes the work is quite scholarly or looks at families that share a common theme such as the Campling Collection, the original notes made  by Campling before publishing the pedigress as East Anglian Pedigrees. Other collections have compiled family trees for families in a specific area  such as the Rogers Collection of notes on Cornish families. The SoG has over 350 of these special collections.

New collections come into the library every week.  Often they are  the life work of a family historian bequeathed to the Society because no other family member might want the research. Each collection is sorted and listed by volunteers. Often the papers aren’t as organised as they might be when they arrive at the library. It  can be quite a daunting task to go through many boxes of notes and to make order out of chaos. It can be quite sad if family photos don’t have names or places attached to them such as these charming family photographs.

Sometimes it’s not only the family photos that can be difficult to  identify.   All sorts of ephemeral items often come in with the research notes.  Volunteers have great fun sorting the collections. It was a delight to find this fine fellow (below)  in the recent acquisition of the Helen collection. Helen Collection cat 12 238x300 Special Family History Collections at the Society of Genealogists

Surnames represented in the Society’s document collections of miscellaneous manuscript research notes, the roll pedigree collections and the birth briefs submitted by members are listed on the library section of our website. However the names in the special collections are, at present, only listed in card indexes in the lower library.

Contributing to the Society’s centenary appeal can help us continue to conserve and care for our collections. See the donations page of our website.

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