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Society of Genealogists 1911-2011 Celebration Family History Stamps

The Society of Genealogists is delighted to commemorate its 100th  anniversary celebrations with a special franked set of genealogical commemorative stamps issued by Isle of Man Stamps and Coins. From Births to Deaths the special collectors’ edition of genealogy stamps encapsulate the key events of life. Franked with the Society’s 1911-2011 Centenary Logo and embossed with the Society’s strap line in gold lettering, the Isle of Man Post Office  Cover issue of 8 stamps charts the milestones of human life through the use of public records held in Manx National Heritage’s brand new ‘i Museum,’ which is dedicated to family history on the Isle of Man and elsewhere. The Society is grateful to Colin Chapman FSG and Lochin publishing for sponsoring the production of the Society of Genealogists’ commemorative issue of these stamps.  Sets of the genealogy commemorative stamps available from the Society’s shop at £4.99.


This stamp issue celebrates the resources available for the many people interested in uncovering more about their Manx ancestry. Stamp content in this series was inspired loosely by the seven stages of life (from birth to death).  At this Manx National Heritage facility attached to the Manx Museum complex on Kingswood Grove, Douglas, researchers can search for and obtain copies of digitised documents, photographs, newspapers and other media which have been selected for phase one of an ambitious digitisation programme.  For family historians there is a wealth of information, made more accessible by the digitised format and name and subject searches at the touch of a button. Hundreds of church registers, wills, photographs and multiple titles of Manx newspapers spanning 1793 to 1960 are available. Obituaries, birth, marriage and death notices and mention of family members in press articles can all be retrieved after a simple search.  Alongside digitised content of some deposits in the MNH Library and Archive Service are resources delivered in partnership with other agencies, notably the Isle of Man Family History Society. For instance the Society’s records of monumental inscriptions in the Island’s churchyards are now available digitally.

Isle of Man Stamps & Coins has worked with the Isle of Man Family History Society and Manx National Heritage to research prime themes associated with tracing Manx family history. In addition, they have featured the most common surnames found on the Isle of Man census of 1891. The issue text, in the presentation pack and first day cover, details these aspects and the valuable work of these institutions is also discussed.

Compulsory registration of births did not start on the Island until 1878 making baptismal entries in church registers before that time a prime means of tracing babies and their parents. Registers may reveal the maiden name of mothers as well as the father’s trade. When undertaking any Isle of Man family history research the starting point is the Parish Records.  There are 17 parishes on the Island and, generally speaking, people rarely moved outside of their area. This, therefore, makes research a lot easier than you may first think.

Every family has a school photograph somewhere in their home. School records are an invaluable tool when researching the early life of a family member. Not all school registers survive so an alternative means of tracing an individual’s attendance is the school logbooks kept by head teachers. Sample entries, from South Cape School, Laxey in 1914, mention three children as well as illnesses which the teachers monitored.

The images featured on this stamp are drawn from the IOM Post Office archive. Of all the businesses and trades on the Island the delivery and despatch of letters and parcels has touched the lives of more people than any other in some way every day. A good resource for researching occupations is ‘Brown’s Directory’ of 1894; other directories, stretching back to 1824, can be consulted at Manx National Heritage.

Wedding photographs reveal a lot about family life and fashion at the time of the wedding. A picture outside a recognisable church can help you find the marriage in church registers. Marriage certificates, held at the General Registry in Douglas from 1884, provide more details about couples being researched. With modern technology people who would otherwise be very small on the typical group shot can be enlarged – this might be the only way to obtain an image of a family member.

For a researcher an invaluable resource is the family album, particularly if the people featured are named. When undertaking research, census records dating back to 1841 reveal much about a family and their circumstances. In the main photograph several generations are pictured and named in this family portrait. John Stevenson is shown on the 1881, 1891 and 1901 census living at Kerrowmoar, Lezayre, while John Southward was in Sulby Glen. The census, recorded every 10 years, can be found online as well as at MNH and IOM Family History Libraries.

During the 19th century many Manx people emigrated for financial reasons, leaving their homes deserted and to fall to ruin (known as ‘tholtans’). Sailings from Liverpool to North America and Australia were advertised in Manx newspapers. Passenger lists from the Isle of Man are very rare. Letters home and some recollections form a poignant reminder of the toll of enforced separation. The World Manx Association was established in 1911 to form Manx clubs around the world.

Deaths during the World Wars are recorded on many memorials throughout the Island and our stamp includes the base of that dedicated to the men of Ramsey. More recent losses are also commemorated with the very sad death of British soldier Corporal Michael David Gilyeat, who was killed on duty in Afghanistan on 30 May, 2007. Although born in Germany, he has strong local connections as his mother Maggy and Grandparents are Manx. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission maintains extensive records of servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice and archives details of their final resting place. On the Isle of Man, death certificates from 1878 are obtained from the General Registry in Douglas.

As anyone who has researched their family history will tell you, the best resources of all are the stories and items handed down from one generation to the next. To see a baby christened in a robe which has been lovingly cared for and passed down through six generations really evokes a sense of having roots in both the past and present.
Today’s generation is only a custodian for the next branch of the tree..

London Metropolitan Archives invited representatives of the London genealogy community to attend its first Family History Forum at the archive on 20 April 2011. This was attended by the Genealogist from the Society of Genealogists, and representatives from the Federation of Family History Societies, North West Kent FHS, London, Westminster and Middlesex FHS, East Surrey FHS, and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. The meeting was chaired by Deborah Jenkins (Assistant Director: Heritage).

A lot has happened in the London archive community recently with the Guildhall Library, Archives and Art Gallery having been amalgamated with the London Metropolitan Archives bringing effective control of 3 services under the Corporation of London. The recent partnership with to digitise records sets of genealogical, social and local significance has very much changed the nature of the service provided by the archives. The forum was called to update the family history community on issues affecting LMA.


Sadly, though perhaps inevitably in the current climate, the first item on the agenda was a statement by David Pearson (Director: Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Art Gallery Department) about the requirement for the department to make savings of 15.9% in its budget for 2011-12. Having been consulting users via the LMA website and drop in meetings since March the department is now pretty much ready to decide how it will make these savings. Yes it will mean reduced opening hours, fewer Saturday openings and compulsory redundancies amongst the staff.

As this procedure is still in process we have no news yet of how much expertise or resource will be lost from the archive and this must clearly be unsettling for staff. The new online catalogue has meant a 30% increase in the number of document ordered and delivered at the archive (some76,000 over the year with nearly 90% of them delivered within 20 minutes). There were 29,000 visitors – all be it 6% drop on the previous year. It will be interesting to see how after the cuts LMA can continue to provide services to such numbers or continue to receive the high satisfaction feed back it currently receives via user surveys or its leading 4* position under TNA’s archive assessment scheme.

Essentially LMA will close on Fridays and will be open only one Saturday a month. This will take place from November after the stock taking week, having given a suitable period for notice etc for staff. To compensate in some way for this LMA will be introducing longer opening hours on Wednesdays making late night opening to 7.30pm on Tuesday -Thursdays. A significant number of people had asked LMA not to close on the same day as other major repositories. (Both TNA and SoG are closed on Mondays) making it possible to do some research at least in London on this day. The number of researchers on Saturdays has been falling dramatically and it will be reviewed in a year whether to continue to open on Saturday. So this means if you want LMA to remain open on Saturdays it’s a case of use it or lose it.


Charlotte Shaw (Head of Collections and Systems) provided an overview on the last two years partnership with to digitise and make available significant LMA collections. Phase one of the project is progressing steadily with C of E parish registers, Board of Guardian Records, School and Nonconformist registers having come on stream. In the next few months the diocesan wills formerly held in LMA and Guildhall will be online and indexed with electoral registers up to 1965 and City of London Freedom records to follow.

Stage two of the project is seeing negotiations with the various city livery companies to allow the deposited records from the Guildhall to be digitised and made available. This will not include those livery company records retained by the companies themselves. 2012 will see the inclusion of the City & Tower Hamlets Cemetery records and some Session Records.

Questions were raised about omissions in the digitised records and misattributions. It was made clear that some older films NOT created by LMA itself were OMMITTED from the Ancestry project as they were not of suitable quality. Also films were digitised only when LMA had copies of the original records and permission from the authorities for their use. LMA seemed unaware of the problems of the mis-attribution of some of the sources supposedly included by The SoG Genealogist promised to provide a link to some comments on this information.

Miriam Silverman (Ancestry: UK Content Manager) followed up with more information about the future projects. Ancestry’s scanners continue to process records at LMA. They are currently working on the Guildhall and LMA Collections of Poll Books and the Overseas Returns. The London wills number nearer 400,000 which a much larger number than had initially been thought to exist. A broader spectrum of records will include parish confirmations, Middlesex transported convict records, Surrey Marriage Bonds and Allegations, London Land Tax and London Poll books though they will also be including the Guildhall’s copies of poll books for places outside London. It is hoped that most of the records will be indexed with a pilot of the early poor law records under way through Ancestry’s World Archives Projects that allows volunteers at home to index images of the records made available to the community.

There was discussion about the updating and improvements made to any mistakes or omissions in the indexing or transcription of records. Work is being done to identify and amend any problems across collections in addition to using the correction and amendment procedures already made available to users of the Ancestry site. Essentially any one who has discovered errors and problems should let LMA and Ancestry know about it.


Nicola Avery (Principal Archivist, Archives Systems) provided a list of some of the new accessions recently acquired by LMA. Some of which were made available to view in the conservation room after the meeting. These include records for several churches and religious institutions, a copy of a missing interment register for Darenth Assylum and an accumulated register of the City of London School 19000-1920. LMA is currently negotiating the deposit of the registers of All Hallows Barking by the Tower – one of the last 2 city parishes to deposit its records.


In addition to some of the statistics mentioned above Tim Harris (Head of Access and Buildings) reported on issues relating to the physical care of the building. One significant point to note is that a service lift is to be refurbished between November and December which will affect the production of records. If anything it might be better to avoid making a visit in this period and certainly give lots of notice using the advanced ordering facility on the online catalogue. One interesting point to note from the results of the user survey is that for the first time the percentage of users reporting their interest as genealogical was down to 60% with 40% saying they had other reasons for using the record office.

The next meeting of the LMA User forum will be in September. In the meantime anyone interested in receiving information about new and events from LMA can sign up for the electronic newsletter

How To Get The Most From Family Pictures – Special Offer

Subscribers to Family History Monthly magazine can currently enjoy a 10% discount off How To Get The Most From Family Pictures by Jayne Shrimpton, the latest book published by the Society of Genealogists. Simply obtain the offer code from your May 2011 issue of Family History Monthly magazine and place your order in our online shop at This offer ends on 04/05/11 and may not to be used in conjunction with any other offer.

Jayne Shrimpton’s book is essential reading for family historians researching their family pictures. This is the first book to cover inherited artworks – paintings and drawings – and silhouettes, as well as photographs. The book spans the late 18th to mid 20th centuries. Informative, fascinating and thought provoking, it explains the  techniques for accurate picture dating and offers further tips for analysing, understanding and discovering more about historical images. The author is a professional dress historian and picture specialist, with an MA in the History of Art (Dress) and is a former archive assistant at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Now an independent writer, lecturer and consultant, she has over 20 years experience of dating and analysing pictures. ‘branches’ into living relatives

The Society of Genealogists has received the following family history news update from Ancestry:, has enhanced its product range by adding Living Relative Search – a service new by PeopleTracer to help Ancestry members locate living UK-based relatives.

Peopletracer is a newly formed people-tracing company from one of the UK’s leading data specialists, Tracesmart. Its founders have more than ten years’ tracing experience locating thousands of people.

In addition to building their family trees and searching 870 million UK historical family history records, members can now also trace lost or just discovered living relatives

Living Relative Search is a fast and convenient way of finding living relatives living in the UK. To start the search, members just need to type in the name of the family member and click ‘search’. A more refined search can also be conducted by entering the relative’s last known location or exact address.

The data is sourced from the Edited Electoral Rolls, 2003-2011, telephone directory records, land registry records and Google maps, and is regularly updated to ensure that the most accurate search is always being carried out.

Angela Wiseman from comments: “Increasingly, we hear stories of our members finding, or wanting to find, recently discovered relatives, so we’re very excited about providing them with the necessary tools to make connections with living family members as well as their ancestors.”

Mike Trezise from Peopletracer comments: “Working with an established brand is very exciting and will hopefully help a significant number of people connect with lost relatives.”

Click here to start tracing your lost relatives now.



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British Library and to digitise 5 million pages of family history records

Findmypast (sponsors of the Society of Genealogists’ centenary year and host of some 9 million names from the SoG online Library Collections)  have had a busy time recently. The Society has received the following update of new ventures and online family history records relating to the British in India.

Selections from the India Office Records and a century of electoral registers will be made online

The British Library and family history website are to digitise a treasure trove of family history resources held by the Library, making them available online and fully searchable for the first time.

The project will involve the scanning of UK electoral registers covering the century that followed the Reform Act of 1832, along with records of baptisms, marriages and burials drawn from the archives of the India Office. When available online, these collections will enable historians, genealogists and family history researchers to make connections and track down details of ancestors and others at the click of a mouse – work that would previously have necessitated visits to the Library’s Reading Rooms and many hours of laborious manual searching.

The British Library holds the national collection of electoral registers covering the whole of the United Kingdom.  The registers contain a vast range of names, addresses and other genealogical information.
“Digitisation of the electoral registers will transform the work of people wishing to use them for family history research,” said Jennie Grimshaw, the Library’s curator for Social Policy and Official Publications. “Printed electoral registers are arranged by polling district within constituency and names are not indexed, so the process of finding an address to confirm names of residents is currently incredibly laborious. Digitisation represents a huge breakthrough as users will be able to search for names and addresses, thereby pinpointing the individuals and ancestors they’re looking for.”  
The other holdings included in the large-scale digitisation are drawn from the archives of the East India Company and the India Office. These records relate to Britons living and working in the Indian sub-continent during the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, up to Independence in 1948. They include over 1,000 volumes of ecclesiastical returns of births, marriages and burials, together with applications for civil and military service, and details of pension payments to individuals.

Antonia Moon, curator of post-1858 India Office Records said, “These records are an outstanding resource for researchers whose ancestors had connections with British India, whether as servants of the administration or as private inhabitants.”
The partnership between the British Library and followed a competitive tender process and will see five million pages of UK electoral registers and India Office records digitised over the next year. The resources will become available via and in the British Library’s Reading Rooms from early 2012; online access will be available to subscribers and pay-as-you-go customers – access to users in the British Library Reading Rooms will be free.

Simon Bell, the British Library’s Head of Licensing and Product Development, said: “We are delighted to announce this exciting new partnership between the British Library and, which will deliver an online and fully searchable resource that will prove immensely valuable to family history researchers in unlocking a treasure trove of content that up to now has only been available either on microfilm or within the pages of bound volumes. The Library will receive copies of the digitised images created for this project, so as well as transforming access for current researchers, we will also retain digital versions of these collections in perpetuity, for the benefit of future researchers.”

Elaine Collins, Commercial Director at, said: “We’re very excited to be involved with this fascinating project. The electoral rolls are the great missing link for family historians: after censuses and civil registration indexes, they provide the widest coverage of the whole population. To have Irish and Scottish records alongside England and Wales is also a huge advantage. These records will join the 1911 Census, Chelsea Pensioner Service Records and many more datasets available online at, which enable people to make fantastic discoveries day after day.”

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