Tuesday, September 25, 2007

October GenClass Newsletter

Welcome back to the GenClass newsletter! This month's spotlight is
on using the AncestorsonBoard feature of Findmypast.com.

If this is your first time reading this newsletter, welcome!

Our monthly newsletter includes a featured article by an expert GenClass instructor, a tip of the month, and a list of upcoming courses.


October is Family History Month. To celebrate, why not take one of the great classes being offered at GenClass during October. There’s no better time to start discovering your roots!

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Tip of the Month:

Set the stage for Family History Month by listening to inspiring tunes such as Neil Diamond’s “America” or “Lady Liberty” by Orleans. Steve Lanza’s Ancestral Songs album is another good choice. For more great tips on Family History Month activities, see “365 Ways to Discover Your Family History” by Lisa Alzo in the February 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine. See

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Findmypast.com
by Pat Ryan, MCCSG

My father and grandmother left Scotland for Canada in April 1904 to rejoin grandfather who had come over earlier. So when www.findmypast.com announced the release of their Ancestorsonboard offering I decided to see if I could find them. Ancestorsonboard lists passengers leaving the UK between 1890 and 1960. It is an ambitious task, and the web site says that records will be completed in the coming months. To date, the database has records from 1890 to 1929. It is not just British who are included in the database. Many east Europeans traveled through England to reach major shipping ports, such as Liverpool, so this may be a valuable source for those researchers too. Having already located my family on Canada’s ships passenger lists, I felt this should be an easy task. Of course … it wasn’t!

My grandmother’s name was Margaret or Maggie Gilmour, born 1875, and her travelling companion was my Dad, William Muir Gilmour. It is helpful to know years of birth, which I did. Armed with everything I already had, why couldn’t I find them in the Ancestorsonboard database?

As with all databases, there are ‘little’ things we must learn.

The first thing I learned was that there are payment options available – pay per view from 5p; subscriptions offering unlimited access; vouchers to buy and redeem on census records, BMDs and more; and periodic special offers. If we choose the pay-per-view we can purchase a transcript – for 5 units (5p) – which tells little more than the free search. Buying the associated image costs thirty units. Fair enough. Just be sure to read through the payment options BEFORE buying – this is good advice for other websites as well.

Once you have chosen a transcription, or an image, and paid your money … you can download it to your hard drive (an excellent idea), and you can print your copy (also an excellent idea). HINT: be sure to cite your source AND ensure that you can open the saved document from your hard drive!

The Ancestorsonboard site will automatically save the document to my hard drive as a DjVu format – which happens to be one my computer [and possibly yours] cannot open. Here’s how to solve the dilemma. On your viewed image, right click your mouse, choose File, then choose “Export to File” which will now save the image as a BMP (bitmap). Most computers can open bitmaps, and you can now manipulate the image to your satisfaction. This hint may work for other websites too.

I did eventually locate my father and grandmother in this database indexed as Mrs. J. Gilmour and my father as William Mair Gilmour. Once you purchase either a transcript or an image, you can look at it as many times as you wish … providing this is all done without leaving the web site. When you sign in next time, you will need to re-purchase, so save it the first time round.

Click here for a listing of upcoming classes on GenClass for October and November.

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