Friday, May 28, 2010

History Cold Case BBC2

Hello All -

There has been a very interesting tv programme on BBC2 on Thursday nights called "History Cold Case." I think the series is over now, but I think you can still watch episodes of it on the BBC website, or on catch-up via Virgin Media Cable TV. Here is the link for the programme:

I only saw last night's episode - "Crossbones Girl." I must say that I really enjoyed this show. It is definitely a show that would be of great interest to family historians. According to the BBC website in a brief description of the show, "History series which sees skeletons of everyday people from across the ages analysed in staggering detail, opening new windows on the history of our forebears."

Since I have only been able to watch the last episode, I can't say much about the previous ones. However, last night's show really bought the skeletal remains into social context very well. They even may have found what this very young woman's name may have been - their discoveries fit quite well with the name found in the hospital and burial records. That is what I call quality and thorough research. The programme really brought this woman to life, even did a facial reconstruction of her skull to show what she may have looked like. By the end of the show you felt that you had a sense of who she was and felt sorry for her - she appears to have been a young prostitute suffering from syphilis who died very young (possibly 19 years old).

History Cold Case if a very well done programme and hopefully the BBC will do another run of it soon.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

ScotGen Awarded Top 100 Genealogy Sites!

Hello All -

Just a quick mention (and shameless plug) of our humble wee blog being awarded as one of the top 100 Genealogy Sites by I can say that this blog is in great company with the others on the list - top notch sites. See's blog site for the complete list:

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Too Many Family History Magazines in UK?

Hello All -

I know that this might seem a strange post after my previous one regarding the new Your Family History magazine being on the market now, but I will delve into this opinion of mine. I did think about all the family history magazines on the newstand when I saw this new one out on the shelves at the local W.H. Smiths. I will admit that I do like reading magazine, especially ones to do with genealogy and family history. However, are there too many out there? Are these magazines just overlapping each other in their content?

In the US there was the closing of the Ancestry magazine recently, and the closing of Everton's Genealogical Helper about a year ago or so. In the UK Ancestors magazine has just recently ceased publication in the last few months. Is it the bad economy causing this to happen, or is it just a saturation of genealogy publications on the market? I am not too sure to be honest -perhaps a combination of these and other reasons not mentioned.

In my humble opinion, I do think that there is a bit of a saturation of family history magazines on the market, especially in the UK - there are at least 4-5 different ones on the newstands now. Don't get me wrong, I fully support a free marketplace where anyone can publish any magazine they want and if the market supports it to keep it on the shelves that's great. I just sort of think some of the magazines, at least in the UK, seem to be all the same with a few exceptions. There really needs to be a real difference between these publications. For example, the new publication out that I just mentioned (YFH) focuses more attention on social history rather than just basic research and records, which is what many of the others focus on. There is nothing wrong with that, but there doesn't need to be 3 or 4 all doing the same thing.

I know that the editors of these magazines would argue that they are different from one another, but they don't seem to be in my experience of reading and purchasing these publications - however this is just my own personal view. I know that there is somewhat of a difference in style and context, but they just seem too similar to me.

For example, there has been times when I have seen one month a magazine will feature on wills as one of their main articles, then the next month another magazine will do a main article on the same thing. For me personally, I would like to see a vast difference in content and audience for these magazines. There could be the one for the beginner, one for methodology, one for Scottish content, one for Welsh content, one for the advanced genealogist, one for social history (YFH is doing this now), one for just computers and technology in family history, just to name a few ideas. Not to complain, but many of these magazines simply focus too much on English research and records - this is definitely needed, but there is no need for 3 or 4 doing this.

However, the marketplace will always dictate who survives and who doesn't. So far in the UK these magazines have survived, with the exception of one in the recent past.

New UK Family History Magazine on the Market

Hello All -

There is a new kid on the block in the family history magazine market - it is called Your Family History. It is edited by Nick Barratt, which in itself is a good reason to buy this magazine. What makes this magazine a bit different from the others is that according to Mr. Barratt's introduction article "YFH is different from other titles you might have seen in two important respects. Firstly, we’ve assembled a team of leading experts, researchers and historians to show you not only how to discover who your ancestors were, but also guide you into the rich local and social history that brings context to their lives. We will be featuring a range of topics each issue, linking your personal research with local and national heritage themes through our connections with English Heritage, National Trust and the world of archives.
However, what makes us unique is that we want to featureYOUR stories, YOUR discoveries, YOUR mysteries and YOUR documents."

Who are the experts for the magazine: Dr. Barratt, Laura Berry, Dr. Julia Hofmann, Dr. Jessica Lutkin, Chris Pomery, Amber Strang, and Dave Annal. All have many years of experience in family history, and their specializations. You can go to the magazine website at to read more about these experts.

The first issue is out now. I have purchased this issue the other day, and it seems to be really good. It has a "How To" section, a "Casebook" section, "Social History" section, "Local Archives" section, "History Mysteries" section, "On The Web" section, and the "People's Archive" section, plus reviews of software and books on the market or soon to be coming on the market.

The layout and graphics are quite similar to Your Family Tree magazine, but Your Family History does things their own way in its content - as Dr. Barratt states in his introduction it is more focused on social history and you as a family historian, and not so much as a beginner's guide to doing basic research like the other magazines. Social history can be somewhat left out when first doing family history research, but this magazine puts it into the forefront and shows how vital it is in family history. It lets your ancestors be alive and not just a name and date and place - these folks had lived a life and it is important not to forget them in their historical context. As the saying goes - "putting flesh on the bones." This is what makes family history so much fun.

To find out more about this new magazine please view their website at Also, they are offering Dr. Nick Barratt's new book for free with every new subscription. That in itself is worth it. Dr. Barratt is one of the leading UK genealogists today, and his work is excellent. You can also go to any W.H. Smiths and other newsagents and booksellers to get a copy.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A Eureka Moment For One Paisley Buddy

Hello All -

Here's a nice story found in one of the local newspapers yesterday. It just shows that one should not give up searching even if at first you don't find anything - keep looking. Mr. Smith has searched his ancestry for a while now, and like many amateur family historians he stumbled upon an elusive ancestor in his dogged determination to search for him. Read the full story about his discovery in the Paisley Express link below.