The Clocks went forward this week, so the days will be getting longer than the nights. It also means that the weeds in the garden will be springing up quicker than the plants! Shame our missing ancestors don’t pop up so easily.
Opening of Groups:
Lockdown is being eased slightly this week with more easing next month. I know that many of you are impatient for our Groups and venues to be opened, but we do have to continue to be cautious.
There are lots of things to consider before any of our Groups can open, we may still be dependent not only about social distancing but health and safety items such as how many people can be accommodated at one time: sanitising chairs and equipment, etc. and it should not be assumed that these tasks will be done by our volunteers, attending members could be asked to help.
To those who have visited our centre in Birmingham will know that it is not the largest space in the world, so there may have to be a booking system in place, you will not be able to just ‘pop in’. How many people can be accommodated in the library? Again, there is the sanitising of chairs and equipment. Books may have to be quarantined. All these things must be considered before we open our doors.
All these options will be discussed by the Exec. Committee, Group Leaders and volunteers, but at the end of the day I think we just need to be patient. If you attend one of our Groups, make sure they have your up to date contact details, so they can let you know when they will be re-opening.
As you will have seen in the March journal, our AGM will be held online on May 5th. For those of you who do not wish to participate online, send me an A5 SAE and I will send you a postal vote.
The format of the online event will be run along similar lines as our normal AGM but this time, all our members will be able to participate either by Zoom or sending in a postal vote. From 5 April 2021 there will be a page on the Members Area of the Midland Ancestors website giving you full details. Registration will close on 28th April at 23:59 so allowing 7 days for validating memberships and emailing out confirmations. Full instructions on how the polling feature will work will be available on the website.
Postal voting forms must be returned by 28th April 2021.
Lockdown has provided us with an online platform so we can reach those members who are not able to attend our Groups. Even our Exec Committee meetings are held on Zoom, it saves on travelling and is much more convenient. This is where I hope we can persuade more of our members to stand as committee members at the AGM to help with the running and decision making in the Society. If you feel you would like to contribute in any way, please put your name forward and become a committee member.
The Trustees will also be putting forward a proposal to revise the Society’s Constitution to bring it more in line with the 21st century. The last revision was about 30 years ago, so this is long overdue. The revised Constitution will be available on the website, so please read and if you have any points to make, email me or Phil Lamb.
Next month we have three brilliant talks for you.
On 13 April Online Event – Bromgrove Group presents Jan Pick talking about the Craythorne Family. Go to the Bromsgrove Group page on our website for more details. http://www.bromsgrovebmsgh.co.uk/cms/events/details/
13 April @7:30pm -9:00pm
On 14 April, Online Event – Kenilworth Group presents Professor Rebecca Probert talking about Marriage law and practice in the Midlands, 1837-1900. A very popular speaker.
14th April @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
On 21 April, Online Event – When the Lights Went Out – Birmingham goes to War Speaker – Andrew Lound
Andrew will be talking about Birmingham people during the 39-45 war, focussing on W.T. Avery’s famous Soho Foundry as well as the darkened streets of Birmingham. Andrew is a member of the Society and gives lots of talk around Birmingham and about Birmingham.
21 April @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Sarah Moody gave us a very interesting talk on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission last month. Looking at their website, it has been completely revamped and includes links to their extensive online archive which contains over 10,000 items including personal correspondence, photographs, etc. Why not look at www. https://www.cwgc.org/
I would also like to mention the War Graves Photographic Project. This project involves volunteers travelling the world taking photographs of war graves. My husband was named after his uncle who died in Tunisia in 1943. We always said we would go and see his grave but were advised not to travel to that part of the world, so instead I asked the TWGPP to photograph the headstone for us at a cost of £4, which they then emailed to me. Wonderful. https://www.twgpp.org/
Last month I said that War. County Record Office had refilmed their parish register collection. This was not strictly true. WCRO have given Midland Ancestors copies of their parish register collection as scanned by the Latterday Saints in the 1970’s and 1980’s which we are rechecking and discovering hundreds of missing pages (or blurred and unreadable), which are then rescanned and including with our transcriptions.
Although we know that Ancestry, Findmypast and The Genealogist already have these images and transcribed on their sites, we can provide a free download of WCRO transcriptions to date, and you can view a list of all free indexes via the Midland Ancestor Shop Page on the website.
Unfortunately, we cannot publish these missing pages until 1 December 2021 as Findmypast have an exclusivity agreement in place, but we have already added loads of missing pages to the shop to go live on 1st December.
Transcription of these registers has been going on for 3+ years with 60+ volunteers. More volunteers are needed to finish this mammoth task, so if you feel you can help (does not matter where you live), contact our project manager, Kim Walker at email address email@example.com, and she will send you a register and a spreadsheet to complete.
As a reward for helping, once you have transcribed several registers, Kim with send you a discount code giving you 20% off shop purchases (excluding memberships). You do not have to be a member to help with transcribing.
I was talking to one of our members recently about DNA. She had done her DNA through Ancestry but had not got very far with any matches. I suggested she tried Gedmatch to see if she has more success. Gedmatch.com, is a free online service to compare autosomal DNA data files from different testing companies.
To make use of it you must open an account with Gedmatch, download your raw data from your DNA testing company and then upload it to Gedmatch. You can then use the matching criteria, such as ‘Onetomany’, to come up with a list of matches. What you are looking for is the matches in ‘Total CM’ column. The higher the number the better the match.
One thing you are now able to do is upload a Gedcom table and search other Gedcoms. Member Jacqui Fielding refers us to a blog on Gedmatch http://blog.kittycooper.com/2018/06/getting-started-with-gedmatch/
In May Karen Evans will be giving a talk on ‘Using DNA testing to Trace your Family Tree’. See our Journal for details or details will be on the website shortly.
Jacqui Fielding, who also belongs to The Friends of Key Hill and Warstone Lane Cemeteries Group, says a new magazine being published on the Jewellery Quarter. Called the Jewellery Quarter Heritage magazine. It is issued quarterly and costs £6. If you are interested go to https://jqheritage.co.uk/
Changes to the Marriages Register
From 4 May both the mother’s and father’s names will be included in the marriage register for the first time under reforms to the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths Act 2019. Currently, only the father is named on marriage certificates.
Other changes from May, however, mean that the Clergy will no longer complete the formal register for the marriage nor issue the legal marriage certificate. Instead, they will be required to create a marriage document or obtain the marriage schedule before the date of marriage and return this to the register office for electronic registration before the certificate is issued.
Clerics will no longer be responsible for corrections in marriage registers, and quarterly returns for marriages in the church building will no longer need to be completed.
Hmmm …. Wonder if we will be able to see marriage certificates via Archives in future?
FHF Really Useful Family History Show
The FHF Really Useful Family History Show will be held on 10 April 2021. We are not attending this year, as we need to concentrate on the AGM. Apart from a plethora of speakers, Family Tree Magazine are hosting two exclusive online family tree study club meetings. For tickets and further information go to www.fhf-reallyuseful.com.
I would also recommend reading the FHS Really Useful Bulletin. It contains lots of news about websites, Societies, and general interest. Send an email to Debbie Bradley firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be put on the mailing list.
In the latest edition it tells you about missing census returns and where you can check for missing pieces.
Online Conference by The Dugdale Society
You may not have heard of The Dugdale Society, but this Society, based in Stratford upon Avon, has been publishing edited transcriptions of Warwickshire’s important local historical records dating from the 11th to the 20th Centuries and making them accessible to family, local and academic historians for over 100 years. (We hold some in our library)
They are holding an online Conference on the weekend of the 15/16th May 2021 and it is free. The Conference is called Warwickshire’s Changing Past and for further details go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/warwickshires-changing-past-dugdale-centenary-conference-tickets-147765377221
The Midland Ancestor
Once again, don’t forget to send Linda Newey any articles you may have for the journal. The deadline is Monday 5th April 2021.
Finally, it is my birthday today and as I have missed the last two birthdays because of lockdown, does this mean that those birthdays don’t count !!