Friday, February 25, 2011

No census for you

We all know the pain of discovering that there is no census for us. No, our ancestors lived in jurisdictions that didn't keep their census returns, like Ireland or New Zealand. Or the census was either never taken, like England in 1941, or their records were collateral damage in wartime. Sometimes even we just get desperately unlucky and find our ancestors were living in the small pockets around the country where the census records for that year have perished or are inexplicably missing.

Our knowledge and understanding of our ancestors' lives are enriched by these records - a happy byproduct of the original purpose of the census, to gather statistical data for future planning. As genealogists we actually get excited about completing our modern-day census returns, contributing to this process and leaving behind this official record, just as our ancestors did.

The New Zealand 2011 census has been cancelled in the wake of the latest earthquake to devastate the city of Christchurch. There is no census for us. I'll be completing my forms anyway (I had been looking forward to doing this online, but the old-fashioned way will suffice), and filing them away along with a copy of this article announcing the cancellation. It's a pretty sad relic of this year to leave behind.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

When chickens come home to roost

This week NZ booksellers Whitcoulls and Borders (both now part of the same Australian group) were placed into voluntary administration. Whitcoulls and its predecessor firms have been around for more than 100 years, so this is sad news. I worked for Whitcoulls for three years while attending university so I was predisposed to give them the benefit of the doubt when I experienced problems with their e-book retailing attempts since they launched this nine months ago. They've done a pretty good job of destroying all that goodwill though - here's a sample of my experiences:

* Inability to consolidate the two email addresses Whitcoulls held for me without going into a physical store and getting them to put in a manual request
* Inability to edit or remove an expired credit card attached to my account
* Inability to add a second credit card so that I could actually buy books after my original card expired
* Purchasing e-books that then never showed up in my eLibrary so that I could access them
* Purchasing e-books that then didn't have the advertised epub format
* Support requests being closed as "fixed" without notifying me that they had been closed or, indeed, actually fixing the problem
* Removal of some of the very useful functionality that the platform has (the same platform that Whitcoulls adopted for their website)
* In-store display models of the Sony Reader with no books on them (because why would you actually want to see what it's like to read a book on it before purchasing one??)

Here's hoping the future for Whitcoulls involves new management that have a clue.

In the related realm of print marketing, this time specifically genealogical, could someone out there fill me in on why UK genealogical magazines arrive in NZ with entirely different names? Your Family Tree is on our shelves with a cover proclaiming it to be Your Family History. All the inside pages are still branded as Your Family Tree. Meanwhile, the magazine actually called Your Family History is on the shelves as Tracing Family History (again, the inside pages all show as the original name). These covers are clearly not specifically printed for the NZ/AU region as the pricing still shows in pounds. If it hadn't have been for the "from Nick Barratt and his team" on the cover of "Tracing Family History" raising my suspicions, I would never have realised that this was in fact the very magazine I'd been keen to see for months. Genealogical magazines tend to have confusingly-similar names anyway, so why oh why are publishers allowing this dilution of their brand?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

To explore strange new worlds

I'm going to be seeking out new life and new civilizations, and boldly going where I haven't gone before - to Ireland! Not literally, just genealogically. I have signed up for the National Institute of Genealogical Studies "Research: Irish Ancestors" four-week course.

I wanted to do a course in something I knew as little as possible about, and Ireland certainly fits the bill. The couple of formal genealogical courses I have done to date covered topics I already knew quite a lot about (after the best part of a decade researching you do pick up a thing or two), so I wanted to stretch myself this time round. And I had a discount to do another course through the National Institute, so..........

I recently visited my aunt who has an Irish husband, which gives me a line to practice my skills on - should be interesting to see how things differ from my traditional stomping ground of England.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Those Places Thursday - Wing Buckinghamshire

It's Thursday!

It occurs to me (somewhat belatedly) that you may have been eagerly anticipating my own contribution to Those Places Thursday. Sadly I haven't actually written one for the occasion. As always, you are welcome to peruse the main website at (this blog is a sideline, so if you have ancestors from Wing and haven't visited the main site, prepare to get excited!) - the pages in the Industries section and the Miscellany are probably the most informative and amusing if you don't actually have a connection to Wing.

You should also check out the page of photos of All Saints Church, because I have some news to report about it. Wing is a great example of how you can take a 10th century Saxon church and modernise it from time to time, and this time the roof is the centre of attention. Solar panels were recently installed as part of the Church of England's Shrinking The Footprint iniative. There's an article and nice photo of the panels here, and if you live anywhere nearby you should definitely head along to the seminar at the Church on Saturday 5 March to learn more about renewable energy options for churches.

I'm so proud - well done, Wing!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

February update

This month we have:

* an update to the DORMER family tree - Ursula, at the head of the tree, has been correctly named as Alice Collingridge. Thanks to Charani, who is undertaking a one-name-study of Collingridge, for the heads-up on the surname.

* two more newspaper articles about the murder of baby Jane BOWDEN in 1856. These expand, and in some cases differ slightly from, the information reported in the trial. I do have some further articles on this case to get typed up, and also have some further articles on the Adams murder.

* Frederick CORKETT has been added to the list of WW1 military men from Wing. In Fred's case I hadn't previously located him in the WO363 records as his birthplace hadn't been indexed and his residence was London at the time he signed up. This is probably quite common as this generation did head London-ward, so there will be more men out there that I haven't identified yet - if your man served but is not listed, do let me know.

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