Monday, 13 February 2012

Date an Old Photograph

This is a really useful site for information and help on dating old family photographs. Roger Vaughan has a picture library and many sites that can be accessed from links on this site. His photograph collection is mainly Victorian and Edwardian.

There is also a section on dating an old photograph. Very useful to the Family Historian when researching old family albums.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

London Metropolitan Police database -

If you had relatives who served in London’s Metropolitan Police Service this is a useful site. The records started on the formation of the Metropolitan Police in 1829 with well over 500,000 entries up until 1945. These records do not include the City of London Police or British Transport police.

What the database does hold are records of officers joining or leaving the force, transfers, death or pensioned from service and the issue of medals from the Metropolitan Police. You can also see the Divisions with names of the police stations as well as a chronological list of all the Police Commissioners and Home Secretaries from 1829 to the present.

There is also a useful photo section showing the epaulettes showing the badges of rank (useful if researching photographs of police uniforms)

This is an ideal source of information for the genealogist/family historian who had family members who served in the Metropolitan Police Force. These records can be sourced at the National Archives.

A search can also be undertaken by for a small charge by emailing your details to

Family Tree Folk

Saturday, 4 June 2011

FreeBMD – Useful Search Tip

Many of you probably use FreeBMD for searching for family registrations for births, marriages and deaths but here is a little know useful “extra” tip to use in your research.

Select All Types then enter a + sign and the SURNAME in the First Name field and leave the surname blank.

You will then get a list of registrations where the surname has been used as a middle name or on occasion the first name. It does work better with the more unusual surnames.


One name I research is Scoltock. If I select All Types, enter +Scoltock in the First name field and leave the surname blank I get 10 instances where the Scoltock name has been used as a middle name 3 births, 3 marriages and 4 deaths.

This can be extremely revealing when piecing together your family tree.

So try it yourself using my example above then any of the surnames you are researching and see what you come up with.

Also remember to store your certificates in acid free pockets see

Good Hunting!

Family Tree Folk

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Preserving your research for future generations

Many people starting family history are given some original certificates - a grandparent’s marriage certificate, their own birth certificate, a parent's birth certificate. Some older certificates are longer than the current A4 page size and can be extremely fragile, particularly if decades old. Many have unfortunately been folded and need to be opened and stored flat
To stop them deteriorating and store them in the best condition possible you need to always archive acid free. Acid free archival materials are widely used by record offices, archivists and the legal profession and are now also very popular with family historians.
Instead of keeping your certificates folded in an envelope - or worse still, in a cheap PVC polypocket (this accelerates the ageing process with plasticisers acting on the paper, and strips the ink from the document), put them in acid free polypockets that allow them to be straight and unfolded. The acid free sleeves will prevent further yellowing and disintegration of the paper, and will stop accidental damage by handling. Always use Polypropylene or Polyester pockets.

Storing your original certificates in acid free pockets in a certificate binder keeps them flat and safe and away from light. They are clearly visible through the clear polypropylene or polyester and can still be used for reference as required. As well as the long certificate binder, binders for A4 landscape certificates are also available. These are useful if you only have the newer style certificates, which are all now supplied by the General Registry Office as A4 sheets.
Using acid free card inserts allows two certificates to be stored in each acid free sleeve and prevents the certificates touching. It also stiffens the acid free pocket and provides an attractive background to the certificate.

After all the hard work in researching and collecting all your personal family history research what next? Obviously you make copies and backup all your data otherwise you may lose years of time consuming work. As we move further and further into updated electronic storage possibilities it has become far easier to collect store and easily retrieve your family records.
However what about all the original documents, certificates, photographs and memorabilia? The long term preservation of these items along with your written family history needs to be correctly stored if you want your work to pass down your future generations. The following ten tips should be adopted to ensure the longevity of storage.

1)       Use acid free paper to hand write or print your research including all copies. Most modern inkjet printers have acid free ink but check with your manufacturer and avoid compatible ink cartridges, some of which can be suspect with harmful additives. If you hand write any of your research as well as acid free paper you need to use acid free ink pens. These pens are also safe to write on the backs of photographs. Archival acid free paper used with an acid free ink should give up to 200 years of preservation from fading and deterioration.
2)       Store all your original documents, certificates, photographs and memorabilia in clear inert acid free pockets. These should be archival polypropylene or the more expensive ultra clear polyester used by professional archivists. Avoid the use of PVC pockets which have plasticisers which migrate into documents and photographs causing permanent damage.
3)       Interleave these documents with acid free card which as well as giving further protection also keeps the items apart and adds stability to further safeguard them from damage.
4)       Place any small items of memorabilia in small acid free enclosure pockets.
5)       Any torn and damaged documents should be repaired with acid free clear polyester repair tape which uses inert polyester with an acid free adhesive.
6)       Use acid free glue or double sided tape to stick any items onto acid free card to ensure no deterioration over time from the adhesive. If you want to remove photos and other items use acid free photo corners or “V” mount strips.
7)       Wrap items such as family bibles and lace and fabrics in acid free tissue paper and store in acid free storage boxes.
8)       Archival cotton gloves should be used to handle really old and delicate documents and photographs. This is often enforced at Archive Offices so why not at home?
9)       Place all these in a quality binder for a professional presentation in chronological order of all the data.
10)     Finally store all this away from sunlight, damp and humid conditions, all of which can damage even the best preserved stored research!

If you have any questions about safe repair, preservation or archiving you can

Or visit my website for advice and genealogy products

Mike Kostiuk
Family Tree Folk

Thursday, 5 May 2011

The Genealogist's Resource for Interpreting Causes of Death

Found this website compiled by Rudy Schmidt which is of great use to any genealogist and family historian often baffled by causes of death found on a death certificate or other document.

It is a comprehensive searchable database in alphabetical order with a glossary of archaic medical terms, diseases and causes of death. It also features some original images of certificates and other documents.

Glossary of Archaic Medical Terms, Diseases and Causes of Death

Antiquus Morbus is a collection of archaic medical terms and their old and modern definitions. The primary focus of this web site is to help decipher the Causes of Death found on Mortality Lists, Certificates of Death and Church Death Records from the 19th century and earlier. This web site will be updated often and as new information is received. My intention is to collect and record old medical terms in all European languages. The English and German lists are the most extensive to date.

Family Tree Folk

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Napoleonic Ancestors

If you have ancestors in the Napoleonic Wars you may find this post interesting and helpful in finding more online information on ancestors who served in them.

The conflict between Britain and France ran from 1803 to 1815. Although the French defeat at the Battle of Waterloo on 18th June 1815 was regarded as the end of the wars the conflict continued in small pockets. Even Napoleon’s abdication on the 22nd June did not cease the hostilities with Napoleon still clinging to the hope he could win. Sporadic warfare continued along the eastern borders and on the outskirts of Paris until the signing of a cease-fire on 4th July 1815. On 15th July, Napoleon finally surrendered himself to the British squadron at Rochefort.

To find detailed useful information on the Napoleonic wars, battles, campaigns visit:

You can also find names of those who served at The National Archives

Soldier’s documents from 1760 until 1854 can be found in WO 97/1-1271 and searched by name. Also discharge documents usually relating to pensions from 1782 until 1833 in WO 121.

Family Tree Folk

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Finding your ancestors home – Modern “Domesday”

Although the 1911 census is the most comprehensive census to date with useful information to the family historian a lesser known survey was taken at the same time. This survey known as the “Domesday Books” can provide far more information where your ancestors lived.

In the UK in 1911 a valuation of property was carried out and sometimes referred to as “Lloyd-George’s Domesday”. A new tax imposed under the Finance Act 1909 -1910 called Incremental Value Duty was to counter rising property values. This was so that all properties were re assessed and when sold or inherited this additional tax could be imposed on any increase in value.

The records of this survey were known by the name of the parish and provided:

Domesday Books
These were registers of every property (or hereditament) within each Valuation District. Every property was given a number and individual record. The numbering in each parish was not set geographically so the use of Ordinance Survey maps would be needed.

The information given is the number of assessment, number of Poor Rate, the Christian names and Surnames of the owners (with their residences) and a description of the property. Also given is the gross annual value and rateable value.

Working Plans and Record Plans
The Working Plans were used by the valuers to make a revised assessment based on earlier valuations by the Inland Revenue or Guardians of the Poor. These are generally found at local Archive Offices.

Record Plans are found in TNA (The National Archives) followed the Working Plans and contain additional information such as new housing developments and sale prices.

Field Books
These were created after the Domesday Books and often show changes that occurred between 1910 and 1915. They also can contain additional information obtained from the owners or tenants and record sales. This information can provide a great deal of information on two double pages for each property.
·       Name and address of owner (if they were executors of a will it would also contain the name of the testator)
·       Changes of tenants between 1910 and 1920
·       Rent, rates, taxes and insurance (and by whom it was paid)
·       Construction of the property (brick, tile, slate etc)
·       Room by room description of the house, garden and land if a farm
·       Valuers judgement on condition of property
·       A simple plan on squared paper showing outbuildings and livestock etc
·       Business information for shops and public houses (even providing the turnover of ale by the inn!)

The National Archives TNA hold -
Domesday Books for London & Westminster under IR91
Record Plans under IR121 to IR135
Field Books under IR58

Local Archives will hold relevant Domesday Books and Working Plans for local parishes.

The Finance Act in 1909 -1910 applied to all the UK so Scottish records will be found at the National Archives of Scotland (NAS) and the Irish records at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)

Family Tree Folk