Mar 202017

A little while ago, we ventured into the land of silliness and amusement with the 1939 Register. Long-term FWL followers will recall various posts over the years from the 1911 census which have included occupations such as fairy workers (more often, dairy workers) and angels (more often angle grinders), as well as other daft names (more often than not, real!). The 1939 Register is a wonderful new resource for our daily research challenges and, it would seem, it also provides its fair share of hilarity, in various guises.

Circus clowns are few and far between although Charles H. Austin (b. 1880) makes the grade (the transcript states his occupation as ‘Cicus Clown’) and then in Godstone, there are a whole host of trapeze artists, circus animal attendants, theatrical artistes and more! It’s a shame there is no place of birth listed on the 1939 Register as, of the seven trapeze references, most have unpronounceable/mis-transcribed surnames at the very least, and few appear to have been born in England.

Searching for Jesus, returns many college students at Jesus College, Oxford or Cambridge as well as Harold Heathcote who was an HM Inspector of Taxes or, as the 1939 Register would have you know, ‘Heavy Work Inspection Jesus‘ (so many comments, so little time!). On the flip side, William Topley is recorded as a ‘bell end man’ – a rather unfortunate term in today’s society….

William H. Adams is listed as ‘Engineer Royal Arse‘ and many of his fellow arses fall within the Woolwich Arsenal or Munition Workers in the Royal ‘Arse’, if the truth be told. And then, Joseph Harris‘ occupation is transcribed exactly as it appears:


along with hundreds of cooks who don’t quite appear correctly….. honestly, the list is endless. Carriers appear to frequently have been transcribed as conmen and there are six ‘thief’ references which range from Insurance Broker Chief Clerk (not Thief and Clerk!) to Sheep Skin something or another (not Thief Skin Classes!).

So, what other interesting transcriptions have you located? We’d love to hear your finds!

Mar 122017

When you want something done, ask a busy person…. well, this person is pretty darned busy already, thank you! Over the years, I have given many thousands of hours back to the genealogy and history communities, volunteering in various roles from committee member to Chair/Chairman and many other things in between. This weekend saw the second annual conference of The Surname Society…. an international society for those interested in researching a particular name/s and collecting data on either a regional, national or worldwide level. To ensure that all society members could access the conference lectures and AGM (either in real-time or at their leisure after the event), we were delighted to (once again) be supported by Legacy (this time in the form of Marian Pierre-Louis)…. without their technical wizardry, we would be lost!

The conference lectures were delivered by a world-class field of experts including Peggy Clemens Lauritzen, Dr Janet Few, Dr Martin Blythe of Living DNA, Ruth Blair and Helen Smith. Lectures are only available free for conference attendees (i.e. society members) although most will also be made available (for a fee) from the Legacy Webinar Library. I am pretty certain that we may have broken a world record for the most concise/efficient AGM in history for a genealogy society. Fifteen minutes….! A great day spent in front of the computer and so lovely not to have to pack up and then have an enormously long drive home after the conference was over.

20170312_104048Today was time for family time for the most part. A birthday tomorrow (not allowed to say who!) and so the FWL Wimborne Office and FWL HQ combined to visit Boscombe Down Aviation Collection and then partake of a bite to eat together for lunch. The collection is full of history (right up my street) and the gentleman volunteer who was wandering about could quite easily have been on Mastermind with his specialist subject being the collection itself! There were many restorations under way and also smaller craft stored in the hanger, as well as two cars …. not sure how they fitted into proceedings!

Having visited the Helicopter Museum in Weston-super-Mare and also the Tank Museum in Bovington in the last year, anyone would think we were able to take time off….! Well we can, so long as there is a history-based visit scheduled!

Mar 052017

I actually started writing this blog last weekend and I wrote: “That was the week that was. A week (and a half, in reality) after returning from RootsTech and our FWL world is BONKERS! Seriously….!!! Returning back to #TheRanch, I found a beautifully ‘parcelled’ box of paperwork for me to sort out upon my return. Oh joy! So many things for me to deal with, from my own ‘Private & Confidential’ letter regarding the silly man who drove into my car door in July, to cards inviting me to special celebrations in April and cards just appreciating me for being me!

And now, another week has passed and several people have messaged us asking if I am ‘OK’ and commenting that they are missing our blogs. Well, apologies for going AWOL and thank you for caring! Since my return from the USA (which is now ‘n’ weeks ago, as I actually cannot remember what ‘n’ is), the work has come piling in at a rate not dissimilar (I would imagine) to the predicted water rate when the Oroville Dam emergency was announced.

Along with the new commissions, a few interesting facts/daft transcriptions have been discovered, with the 1939 Register on FindMyPast recording 144 individuals with the words ‘expectant mother’ in the occupation column and a rather ludicrous 32 people called ‘My Fanny‘ who, for the most part are, in reality, named Myfanwy. Alongside these fannys (fannies?), there is also an Arse E. Silk in Leamington Spa who, in fairness to FMP, seems to be exactly that when looking at the image [possibly, Aase].

Knickers appear in the occupation of 40 individuals and those whose knickers are a little looser, four prostitutes??! Elizabeth Bonner was a Prostitute Nurse at Colindale Hospital and Rose C. Lemon was recorded as ‘formerly prostitute’ and living at Cane Hill Hospital. The other two entries were men, which was slightly more surprising…. Oscar Hellman and Gordon Hornby were both dental prostitutes, otherwise known as dental prosthetists! Oscar’s occupation is even in block capitals so doesn’t leave much space for transcriber excuses.

And finally, Cock James Wood…. I can hear you and yes, I am serious! I am sure those researching James Woodcock will be delighted when they locate his actual 1939 Register entry.

You see! Leave us for too long and look what happens.

Feb 182017

This was our second year at RootsTech and so, we (moi and @HistoryLady2013) are possibly a little more ‘qualified’ to comment this year than last. Last year was very much a ‘finding our feet’ mission, with no expectations before we arrived.

I know that since RootsTech has ended, I have already been quoted by @DearMyrtle on her Monday’s with Myrt. She and I discussed comparisons between RootsTech and Who Do You Think You Are? (WDYTYA) Live in the UK. As a volunteer in various organisations from local to national and international, I have first-hand experience of the cost of booking stands at events across the UK. In years gone by, the Society of Genealogists used to organise an annual family history fair at the Royal Horticultural Halls. There were a few lectures during the day but the fair appeared (in my opinion) to be an occasion for societies across the UK to come together and present their offerings to the public. The stands were inexpensive and so, a large number of societies attended.

For the last N years (since the advent of WDYTYA on the television), the annual event moved firstly to Olympia (London) and then to the NEC in Birmingham. Multiply the space by Y and add a factor of Z into the cost of stands…. Guess what? Many of the societies can no longer afford to attend.

How is RootsTech different? The stand costs are Z divided by B (i.e. a darned sight lower)! The number of classes (lectures) and calibre of speakers is a million times greater. I was told by one of the organisers that they received 900 applications to speak at the event and accepted 170. Well, I was super excited to present two of those classes though saddened to see that some classes had to be cancelled as some speakers were unable to honour their commitment to the conference, for whatever reason.

For us – me and @HistoryLady2013 – we take RootsTech as an opportunity. An opportunity to meet up with so many people who we are otherwise only connected with online. Genealogists who are so knowledgeable and always prepared to share their expertise during the conference, either in their classes or personally. The event is not just business but social too and we thoroughly enjoyed the evening event organised by MyHeritage.

What has become very evident to us (me and @HistoryLady2013), in our very differing roles at the conference, is that people who attend RootsTech want to have more classes about/experts in UK records and how to research in the UK (whether in person or from afar). We have both had copious conversations with attendees who want to know ‘how to’. They don’t want a course. There are plenty of those, they know that. They want to speak to a real person and/or hire someone to carry out research. There is clearly something missing from RootsTech and maybe, the Federation of Family History Societies might want to look at attending in the future? The Really Useful leaflet would have been a handy one to have up our sleeves….. to direct interested attendees to relevant Family History Societies back in the UK…..

I will definitely be feeding back to the RootsTech organising team with thoughts for next year. Maybe more UK-based genealogists/exhibitors might want to look into attending in 2018? A coordinated trip?? Honestly, RootsTech is a Win Win!

Feb 152017

As I said in the last blog post, RootsTech cannot last forever. On Sunday evening, me and @HistoryLady2013 looked out of the window of our boudoir in Hotel Monaco and noticed, with sadness, that the huge RootsTech signage in the central tower of the Salt Palace Convention Center had gone. Moving onward to the next convention, I guess.

With two days of ‘downtime’ before heading back to the UK, we decided (not for the first time) to attend the social hour in our hotel lobby at 5pm (sadly, minus our Canadian and Australian friends who had previously accompanied us during the week). Several members of the US Air Force had checked in first thing and proceeded to build a stunning Jenga tower which kept us greatly amused.

Anyone connected with either of us on Facebook will know that we have a penchant for Red Rock Brewing Company and so we paid a final visit (for this trip at least) for our evening meal before heading back to the hotel to continue our family history research. You can’t take the research gene out of either of these ladies!

Monday saw a slightly more focussed trip to the Family History Library. On Wednesday, I had managed to take a few document copies for a friend (Kitcher surname study) back in the UK but most of the time, we had people joining us to catch up/pick our brains, which slightly distracted from the task at hand! For the first time in a long while, I took the opportunity to work on my own surname study whilst @GeniAus was working on her Curry surname study alongside me. I soon had my focussed taken with a work-related matter in the name of Smith and made surprisingly light work of it! Hurrah!!

Knowing that our Valentine’s Day would be an odd one – mostly travelling – we stayed up as late as physically possible, having packed our suitcases with all our RootsTech goodies, ready for departure at 7am from the hotel. We hadn’t planned to leave so early but, when we found out that our seats were to be ‘allocated at the departure gate’ for our Salt Lake City to Detroit leg of our home journey, we decided to err on the side of caution.

We needn’t have worried. Our Express Shuttle driver arrived promptly, we were deposited at the airport swiftly and cleared the check-in desk at break-neck speed. @HistoryLady2013 was not to be calmed until she had her seat, however…. And so, we hot-footed it to D13 to enquire about our seating arrangements. We were not informed until 8:35am that we had in fact been (allegedly) upgraded and were just one row behind Business Class. Slightly confusing when Business Class is Row 1 to 4 and we were in 10!

Salt Lake to Detroit – done. We had plumped for a longer wait in Detroit to avoid any issues with connections but again, needn’t have worried (though we were quite glad we had factored this time in when we heard the horror stories of other people’s journeys to and from RootsTech). A few snaps both during our wait and on departure …. with only 53 people on our flight! We were also informed that the San Francisco flight back to Heathrow had only 30 people on board! The cabin crew could not have been more attentive….

And so, back to Blighty. You are reading this which means we have landed and are back on our merry way to FWL Towers. Some kind of ‘normal’ will now resume.

[N.B. Forgot to mention in early blogs that in fact our Express Shuttle driver back to the airport last year, Leon, was so taken with our stories of RootsTech 2016 that he and his wife, Ann, attended this year. The power of networking!!]

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