Discover English Parish Registers – My new book

Discover English Parish Registers I’m pleased to announce that copies of my latest book – Discover English Parish Registers are now available in both print and electronic formats. It is published by Australian publisher Unlock the Past. You can purchase the e-book here for AUS$7.95 and the print copy here for AUS$17 includes GST.

Here’s how the book is described by the publisher. One note to North American readers – it’s written appropriately in the Queen’s English.

English parish records are a fundamental source for English research. In this detailed guide, family historian Paul Milner explains how and why the records were created, beginning in 1538, what the records look like and what information they contain. A well-illustrated case study, with plenty of twists and turns, shows why care is needed to trace back in time from one generation to the next. The guide continues by explaining how and where to access the records (online, microfilm, originals or in print) and concludes by explaining what to do when you can’t find your ancestors in the records.

Here is a practical guide that will help the beginner to avoid mistakes in climbing the family tree, yet the depth and details are here to assist the experienced researcher in understanding how to get the most from parish registers. This publication is a definitive guide to English parish registers that you will wish you had when you first started your research.

2014 Plans for the Future

2014 Plans for the Future

In my last post I reflected on the happenings of 2013. In this post I will use the same themes and share what I have planned for 2014.

Blog and Writing – On the blog I will continue to highlight and review new online and print resources. If there is a topic that you would specifically like to know about let me know and I will see how if I can point you towards good resources.

In addition I want to focus on the fact that 2014 is the centenary of the start of World War One. Almost anyone with family connections in the British Isles in 1914 will have someone who served in the war or was affected by the war. All the new online indexes are making it so much easier to find family members who served in one of the branches of the armed services or the auxiliaries. What I am finding though is that students don’t appreciate what they have found, what the records contain, or what clues they provide to go to the next step. I plan on examining some of the records in detail and demonstrating how to go further.

I am also working with a good friend, a technologically savvy genealogy blogger, to provide mutual support to write for our blogs on a consistently regular basis. The hope and expectation is that we will both post on a more consistent schedule.

In other writing, I am working on a manuscript explaining the records within the English Parish Chest, to be published by UnlockThePast. I will let you know when my new book, already with the publisher – Discovering English Parish Registers becomes available.

I will also continue doing my reviews for the Federation of Genealogical Society’s FORUM magazine, plus for the newsletter of the British Interest Group of Wisconsin and Illinois (BIGWILL).

Genealogical Speaking – I teach an English track and a Scottish track at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama as part of a three year cycle with David Rencher teaching the Irish track this year. This therefore is my year off while David teaches.

Instead I will be teaching a week long program for the 2014 British Institute – Scottish Research: Understanding the Fundamentals and Beyond – October 20-24 in Salt Lake City for the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History. Plan on coming to join me for what will be a great learning opportunity. I will also be lecturing at both national conferences – National Genealogical Society conference in Richmond, Virginia (May 7-10) and the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in San Antonia, Texas (Aug 27-30). In addition there will be a number of regional and local events. Keep an eye on my schedule for a more complete itinerary.

Personal Research – I hope to make some time for my own research, especially my Milner, Finnigan and Doran lines. I will try to share some of their stories. I will be using my World War One focus to explore and learn more about my many family members who served and died during the war.

Please Join Me in this journey by reading my blog regularly, which you can do by subscribing to the RSS feed or subscribing to an email version of this blog. If you know fellow researchers with a British Isles interest do not keep me a secret, let them know you are reading my blog and suggest they may enjoy it.

Happy Hogmaney to all my readers. Let’s all enjoy 2014 and do good research.

2013 Reflection

Happy New Year.

The New Year is a time to reflect upon the past year and to look forward to the new. In this post I am going to reflect upon 2013, and I will make a new posting for what is planned or hoped for in 2014.

2013 has been a great year in many ways.

Blog and Writing– One obvious genealogical activity has been the creation of this blog. I started it in January 2013 in preparation for the trip to Australia. My focus has been to review and highlight new resources for British Isles research. I have occasionally shared research about my own ancestors along the way.

My Genealogy at a Glance: English Research, published by Genealogical Publishing Company late in 2012 has been selling well throughout the year. I have written the manuscript for Discover English Parish Records which will be published by UnLockthePast publishing early in 2014. I will let you know when it is released.

I continue to write book reviews for The FORUM, the quarterly newsletter of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and the bi-monthly newsletter of the British Interest Group of Wisconsin and Illinois. This activity is a large part of my personal learning process.

Genealogical Speaking – This has been a bumper year with 80 presentations given to audiences on three continents, in three countries – United States of America, Australia and England. Let me give a few more details.

The first overseas trip to Australia started with an UnlockthePast cruise conference from Sydney to Noumea and Fiji, though our cruise never made it to Fiji (electrical trouble!). This was followed by lectures in six cities: Sydney; Brisbane; Perth; Adelaide; Canberra and Melbourne. The trip included 39 lectures covering a wide variety of English, Scottish and Irish research. There was also lots of interaction with enthusiastic and knowledgeable British Isles researchers.

The second overseas trip was to the Exodus: Movement of the People international conference in Hinckley, Leicestershire, England where I gave two presentations on Irish and Scottish Migration to North America.

In the United States I taught a week of classes on Scottish Research at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Birmingham, Alabama. This along with lectures given at the Federation of Genealogical Societies national conference, regional and local events has made it a great year.

Personal Research – this has focused primarily on my Milner line. I learned about my Australian convict James Milner and got to visit the area of Tasmania where he lived. I wrote about this visit in my blog earlier this year. On the trip to England I spent three wonderful days visiting churches and communities where my ancestors come from in Kent. I also got to photograph parish registers still held by two Roman Catholic Parishes, looking for my Finnegan and Doran ancestors in west Cumbria. Nevertheless, with all the speaking and writing there is never enough time to do the personal research that I would love to be doing.

Exodus: Movement of the People Conference – Hinchley, Leicestershire, England

I leave today to travel to Hinchley in Leicestershire England to speak at the Exodus: Movement of the People Conference on 6-8 September. The focus is on the story of migration from, to and within the British Isles.
The three day event provides a who’s who’s of lecturers from the genealogy and academic history community from around the world all focused on one subject – British migration. There are twenty-one sessions given by eighteen speakers. I am giving two lectures:
Scottish Emigration to North America: Before, During and after the Rebellions
Irish Emigration to North American: Before, During and after the Famine.
If you are interested in seeing the program have a look at I am interested in seeing in what ways the British events are different from the American, Canadian and Australian events at which I have spoken. I will provide some feedback.

Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research: Scottish Research Track

Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, June 9-14 at Samford University, Birmingham Alabama.

I am excited as next week I get to teach a whole week course on Scottish Research. IGHR as it is more familiarly known is the longest running Genealogical Institute in North America, and possibly the world. It has been operating for over 45 years. There are 10 education tracks running simultaneously. Courses for England, Scotland and Ireland are offered on a three year cycle. I coordinate and teach the English and Scottish courses, while David Rencher, the Chief Genealogical Officer for FamilySearch teaches the Irish course.

This will be an intense week for the 25 adult learners in the class. 19 lectures with computer class time over the 4.5 days of the Institute.

•    Scotland — Definitions, Sources, Repositories and Processes
•    Scottish Emigration to North America
•    History of Scotland
•    Scotland — Internet: Commercial Sites
•    Scotland — Internet: Free Sites
•    Find the Correct Place: Maps and Gazetteers
•    Civil Registration
•    Making Sense of the Census
•    Church Records for B/M/D
•    Kirk Session and Poor Relief Records
•    Inheritance: Wills and Executries
•    Inheritance and Transfer of Land/Buildings
•    Burghs and Their Records
•    Occupation Records
•    Scots in the British Military (2 sessions)
•    Overlooked Sources: 17th and 18th Centuries
•    Overlooked Sources: 19th and 20th Centuries
•    Planning your Trip to Scotland

Think about IGHR for your future educational needs as it is too late to register for this year


Upcoming Speaking Events for April 2013

A few of my readers have asked that I specifically mention when and where I am going to be speaking as they would like to come and hear me again. So I will try and do this on an occasional  to highlight upcoming events.

Two upcoming local (Chicago area) events – Tinley Park and Libertyville Public Libraries

4 Apri 2012 Tinley Moraine Genealogists – Tinley Park Public Library, 7851 Timber Drive, Tinley Park, IL 60477,   at 7 p.m. For more info – Tinley Moraine Genealogists

  • English Parish Registers: How to Access, Use and Interpret

23 April 2013 Cook Park Memorial Public Library 413 N. Milwaukee Ave, Livertyville IL 60048, at 7 pm. For more info Cook Memorial Public Library

  • Finding Your Ancestors in Ireland

Two all day Events on the Road – Rochester, New York and Omaha, Nebraska

20 Apr 2013 Rochester Genealogical Society All Day event – A Day of British Genealogy Research with Paul Milner. For more info Rochester Genealogical Society

  • Finding Your English Ancestors: The Big Four
  • Finding Your Scottish Ancestors: The Big Five
  • Buried Treasures: What’s in the English Parish Chest
  • Tracing Your Scots-Irish Ancestors

27 Apr 2013 Greater Omaha Genealogical Society 2013 Spring Genealogy Workshop: Researching Your Irish Ancestors at Nebraska Methodist College, N. 87th & Burth Streets, Omaha, Nebraska. For more info Greater Omaha Genealogical Society

  • Irish Emigration to North America: Before During and After the Famine
  • Finding Your Ancestors in Ireland
  • Irish Maps and Tools for Finding the Right Place
  • Irish Land Records

Reflections on an Australian Lecture Tour

I have just returned from four weeks traveling and lecturing in Australia. I was the keynote speaker, giving fifteen lectures and participating in a panel at a genealogy conference on a 9 day cruise out of Sydney. I also gave 4 lectures in each of six cities: Hornsby (Sydney); Brisbane; Perth; Adelaide; Canberra and Melbourne. Everything was wonderfully arranged by Alan Phillips at Unlock the Past.  In total, I presented 39 different lectures on 15 different aspects of British Isles research.

Audience interest met and exceeded our expectations throughout the tour. During the conference, I was gratified to find that people kept coming to my lectures and in fact, began bringing their cruise companions along. During the cities tour, we exceeded attendance expectations, sometimes having double the numbers we expected.

It goes without saying that I had to be well prepared to give 15 different lectures for the cruise, and ensuring that each one was chock full of information.  In point of fact, I had to cut content to meet the 50 minute time limit of the format, since in the U.S. audiences expect a lecture of 60 to 75 minutes. Thank heaven for the power point changer with its built-in timer keeping me on schedule!

Each city venue chose its own four lectures from the fifteen given on the cruise, often with very different subjects to appeal to a wide audience, rather than being chosen to form a cohesive package. Using power point slides meant that I could make adjustments to my presentations while traveling, and thus ensure that the lecture met the specific needs of each audience as we traveled from city to city.

My goal was to make sure that everyone attending learned something new about how to do their own research, and that the beginners did not feel left in the dust. Feedback tells me we succeeded in meeting that goal.

The lectures would not have been so successful without excellent physical arrangements, and for this we thank Unlock the Past.  Venues varied greatly, but were often in clubs (rare to non-existent in the US), such a RSL (Returned Service League), Celtic , Irish, and Broncos (sports team). Major benefits of using the clubs were ample parking and on-site restaurants. Other sites included a town hall and (the best from the presenters’ perspective) the banked auditorium within the State Library of Western Australia.

Events were set up with typical 9-4/5 schedule, but during the week in a 1-9 time slot so that folks could come without missing a whole day of work. Registrants could also choose between a full or half day of presentations, for further flexibility of participation.

Mini lectures on Flip-Pal or Find My Past, given by Rosemary Kopittke, were scheduled in the middle of my four presentations. This was a very smart scheduling move, as it gave me a break. Then, while the audience members had their break, I was 100% focused on answering individual audience questions.

And this brings me to my comments about the audiences I encountered.  Their numbers varied from 80 to 150. Across the board, their base knowledge of general British history, geography and UK genealogical resources was generally far above what I would find in a typical US audience. Many more were themselves or had descended from recent immigrants; therefore, the likelihood that they had traveled extensively in the UK was also much higher than I encounter in the U.S.

I also learned that the standard procedure in Australia is not to provide handouts at the event. I was concerned about this, because it is my practice to provide a content-rich handout so that participants can focus on the examples and do not need to take extensive notes in the lecture. But I found out that it worked well with such a sophisticated audience. I provided the handouts downloadable from this website after the lectures.

Participants were eager for knowledge, case studies, and for resources. They participated actively in the discussions and in the profiling of their needs and interests that I conduct at the beginning of each session. I could readily see that they went away excited and eager to do more research.

It was great fun and a real privilege to lecture to diverse audiences.  My thanks to all! We also made some great new friends along the way.