My new blog!

I now have a new blog page to go with my brand new website! Please visit the following page to read my latest blog posts: 


Interesting find while exploring Brough churchyard

Henry AllisonGraveyards are always interesting places to explore, whether or not you are looking for your ancestors.It’s not just the older stones that are of interest either.

Today, my husband and I were out exploring the churchyard at Brough in Cumbria, when we came across this stone for Formula One driver Henry Clifford (Cliff) Allison.

Cliff was the son of Frank and Sarah Allison and the family ran a garage in Brough for many years. After his career finished Cliff continued to run the family garage for many years, later  moving into the coach hire business. Frank Allision Coach Hire  aka Grand Prix Coaches trades in Brough to this very day.

More about his Formula One career and the family can be found at the following sites:

Opening of the Newsroom at the British Library

Newspapers are, of course, one of our most important sources for accessing death records such as obituaries and inquest records. On Monday I was lucky enough to attend the official opening of the British Library Newsroom at St Pancras. Officially opened by the new Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, the evening also included a tour of the new reading room given by Stewart Gillies, Head of British Library Newspaper Services and a short talk by the BBC’s economics editor Robert Peston.

The Newsroom replaces the previous newspaper library at Colindale in North London which closed in November. Facilities in the new reading room appear to be first class. All original newspapers are now stored safely in a purpose built storage facility in Boston Spa, Yorkshire in order to preserve their life. Newspapers were not designed to last forever and many times after reading an original paper at Colindale I noticed that flakes of paper would remain on the desk after the newspaper had been returned. Therefore access to a large proportion of historic national and local newspapers is now provided either digitally or via one of 40 state-of-the art microfilm readers in the Newsroom.IMG_0667 Many readers will be familiar with the British Newspaper Archive website which is also available on-line at home for those who subscribe and via findmypast. The site is freely available to use in the Newsroom and, although a growing database, already contains millions of pages of newspapers. Use of Optical Character Recognition software (OCR) in tandem with a search engine makes fishing trips for names, places and subjects now a viable possibility turning up items that would never have been found before because so few newspapers were indexed.
Those newspapers not available via the BNA can either be viewed via the new digital microfilm readers or ordered from cold storage in Boston Spa to view at St Pancras but only if the newspaper is fit to travel. 48 hours’ notice is required to do so. The new microfilm readers in the reading room are attached to computer screens which swivel and rotate to accommodate the size and shape of the page you are viewing. From these you can enlarge and print out any part of the page you are interested in and, if you have a lot of papers to study, then you can save all your print jobs to print off in one go at the end of your session.

The British Library is not only responsible for preserving historical newspapers and periodicals but also for capturing and preserving modern day news via websites. Leading into the main Newsroom is a lobby area where you can access some 4.8 million pages of such archived websites.

The Newsroom looks like a great place to research and is already proving extremely popular with a wide range of researchers. To use the Newsroom you will need a readers ticket and full details of how to obtain this can be found at

With thanks to Amelia Bennett for the photograph which comes from one of the historic newspaper pages displayed on the Newsroom wall.

Revised talk schedule WDYTYA show

With just a few days left to the WDYTYA show at Olympia there are a few minor  changes to my talk schedule. My daily talks for The Genealogist at stand 910 are still at 10.30 and 12.45 but the earlier talk will now be ‘Unique Online Sources’ and the 12.45 talk will be ‘I Can’t find my Ancestor in the BMD Index’

In the first talk I will in particular be looking at a very exciting new online release  as well as some other, often overlooked, sources. In the second talk I will be looking at the reasons why you may fail to find an ancestor in the BMD index and what you can do about it.

My talk for the Society of Genealogists on Thursday is in the WDYTYA theatre at 4.45 pm and I will exploring the world of newspapers and how to use this resource to advance your research.

Finally on Saturday at 2.45 pm, again for the Society of Genealogists  in the WDYTYA theatre, I will be dispelling a few myths about wills and which of our ancestors made them and then exploring the different ways in which you can use them for your research. For those of you already familiar with wills we will be looking at some slightly different approaches to your research.

I will also be signing copies of my book at stand 410 at 2 pm on Friday and 4 pm on Friday for half an hour on both occasions. My book will be on sale for the special price of £10 from this stand.

I hope to see you at the show!

Ten days to go!

Just ten days to go until WDYTYA 2014 at Olympia! It seems to have come round evening more quickly than usual and already the excitement is building. For genealogists (or genies as we often call ourselves) it is a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues. Our job, by its nature, can be a lonely one and its lovely to meet new people and learn face to face about new releases of books, databases and forthcoming genealogy projects.

This year the show has a military theme in commemoration of the beginning of WW1 100 years ago but  as usual almost all family history topics will be covered in one way or another either as part of the Society of Genealogists’ excellent workshop programme or in the multitude of family history stands representing family history societies and commercial organisations.

If you are free between 20th and 22nd February and love family history Olympia is the place to be! Further details can be found at

Apart from my schedule of talks I will now also be doing two book signing sessions – one on Friday at 2 pm and one on Saturday at 4 pm.Both will last half an hour. For further details of my events see the WDYTYA  2014 tab.

Talks at WDYTYA 2014

The Who Do You Think You Are? Live family history show at Olympia is just under a month away. Now’s a good time to make sure you have bought your tickets, not just for the show as a whole, but also to reserve a place in any Society of Genealogist talks you especially wish to attend – places sell out fast so its worth spending a couple of pounds reserving a place!

Each day at 10.30 and 12.45 I will be giving talks at The Genealogist’s stand  (number 910) – there are no ticket reservations for these talks so turn up early to get a seat! I will be talking about a variety of exciting different sources and how you can use them to advance your research. On Thursday afternoon at 4.45 pm I am in the SOG Celebrity Theatre/SOG 1 to talk about Newspapers in Family History and on Saturday at 2.45, again in the same place, I will be giving my new talk entitled ‘Wills: not just a source for your better off ancestor’.

Further details of the show are at