google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Armchair Genealogist

Black Friday Sale Starts Now

I want to take this opportunity to wish all my American readers a very Happy Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for and I hope you spend your day surrounded by loved ones.

For those of you who are considering starting your family history stories or joining us this year in The Family History Writing Challenge, (more news coming about that very soon) we thought we would give you a head start. We've got our workbooks on sale at The Family History Writing Studio. As an added bonus, we are also offering 30% off our Getting Ready to Write Webinar.

In our webinar, you hear directly from me as I walk you through the process of getting ready to write your first family history story. I know it can be an overwhelming experience, so we have over 2 hours of information in a 3-part video series.

Once again, Happy Thanksgiving.

Once again Happy Thanksgiving! 

Genealogy Workshop for Southern Ontario Family Historians

Enjoy a day of learning at the beautiful Eva Brook Donly Museum & Archives
located in picturesque Simcoe, Ontario. 
Southern Ontario Genealogists, there is a wonderful educational opportunity happening in Simcoe, Ontario in a few weeks time and it would be a shame not to take full advantage.

On Saturday November 7th, three Canadian Genealogists will be speaking at the Eva Brook Donly Museum and Archives, the topics are varied and will be of great interest to those researching their family history.

DNA for Genealogists

In the morning, Dave Naylor will be speak on DNA for Genealogists. Dave is offering a full rundown of how DNA can be used in your research, he will cover the variety of tests and available so that you know how to choose the right one. He will also introduce you to the companies that offer DNA testing for genealogist.  Dave is a member of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, is project administrator for various DNA projects at Family Tree DNA and World Families Network, and is a group leader for many 23andMe and testees. Dave will be speaking from 9:30 am – 11:30 pm.

Attendees are given 90 minutes for lunch and there are plenty of lovely restaurants within walking distance of the event facilities from full-service to a Tim Horton’s.

Tracking Your Ancestors Through Canadain Ports of Entry

In the afternoon, family historians will re-convene to listen to Kathryn Lake Hogan speak on
Tracking Your Ancestors through Canadian Ports of Entry. In this 90 minute presentation, Kathryn will show you where to look for various records and learn strategies for searching the available online ship passenger lists, immigration records and border crossing records. Kathryn Lake Hogan is a professional genealogist, author, education and speaker specializing n helping family history researchers find their ancestors in Canada.

Beyond the Estate File

Following Kathryn, Jane McNamara will present Beyond the Estate File.  Jane will take us beyond the wills and records of inheritance to court registers, minutes, and other documents that track the estate progress through the court and can add valuable family history clues and help tell the whole story. The session will look at how to find an estate file and how it can lead to other important sources both inside and outside the court system.

Jane E. MacNamara is the author of Inheritance in Ontario: Wills and other Records for Family Historians (OGS/Dundurn, 2013) and writes about genealogy at A long time member of OGS, Jane lectures about research methodology, Ontario, and English family history to genealogical and historical groups throughout southern Ontario. She teaches courses for the OGS Toronto Branch, most notably hands-on courses about Ontario records.

FindMyPast Friday brings New Records

New Records Available To Search This Findmypast Friday

I received the following announcement today from FindMyPast, I'm sure it will benefit many of you. 

Put your plans on hold this weekend as this week’s Findmypast Friday update is our biggest yet with millions of Electoral Registers from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales released online for the very first time in association with the British Library.

The 100 year period covered by these fascinating records includes some of the most important events in the history of British democracy: from the vote being extended to working class men and the reform of representation up until women’s suffrage. Explore these extensive new collections to discover where your ancestor lived, when they could vote and details of the property your family owned in the 19th & 20th centuries.

England & Wales, Electoral Registers 1832-1932

The England & Wales, Electoral Registers 1832-1932 form the largest single collection released on Findmypast to date with over 5.4 million images and approximately 220 million names. The registers have been released in association with the British Library and are the result of a mammoth digitisation project to scan 100 years of microfilmed copies of printed registers, housed on 2.25 miles (3.62 linear km) of shelving. Electoral Registers are listings of all those registered to vote in a particular area. The lists were created annually to record the names of eligible voters and their reason for eligibility, such as their residence or ownership of a property.
This is the first time these registers have been made available online. They can be searched by name and constituency, as well as by keywords which will allow you to discover the history of your family’s home in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Britain, Absent Voters Lists 1918-1921

Britain, Absent Voters Lists 1918-1921 contains over 20,000 pages listing over 100,000 names of service men, women serving with the auxiliary forces, merchant seamen, diplomats and others working in occupations recognised as supporting the war effort. Absent voters’ lists are registers of eligible voters who were absent from their homes. Lists were sent to the Adjutant General’s Department of the War Office who then arranged to send voting cards to men and women in the UK and ballot papers to those in France.
Lists were completed by August 1918 and therefore include names of men who were killed, missing or taken prisoner in the period of time between the compiling of lists and the publication of the register. Records can reveal your ancestors name, a description of their service and their qualifying premises allowing you uncover details of the home they left behind and the part they played in one of history’s bloodiest conflicts.

Ireland, Electoral Registers 1885-1886

The Ireland, Electoral Registers 1885-1886 contain over 3,000 records covering 12 counties. The 1880’s was a period of drastic change in Ireland, from land reform and the beginning of the Home Rule Crisis to the rise of the Irish Parliamentary Party. It was also a vibrant time for Irish culture with the Gaelic and the Irish Literary Revivals in full swing. Search the registers by name or address to pinpoint the exact location of your family during this exciting period of Irish history. From the Act of Union in 1801, until Ireland’s independence, over 7,000 electoral registers were created, but the British Library only holds the registers for a single year.

Scotland, Linlithgowshire (West Lothian), Electoral Registers 1864-1931

Containing over 23,000 records, the Scotland, Linlithgowshire (West Lothian), Electoral Registers 1864-1931 cover the traditional county of Linlithgowshire. The registers allow you to find out where your West Lothian ancestors lived, what they did and whether they owned property in the area.

Electoral Registers are a powerful resource for genealogists. For the first time, these registers are available online and can be searched by name. Previously, when researching your family history you would need an address in order to find your ancestor in the register for that constituency. Today, we can search by name across thousands of places to discover your ancestors. Remember to check our dedicated Findmypast Friday’s page every week to keep up to date with the latest new additions.

Create a Family History Book in 85 Days or Less

Why 85 days?

Because that is the exact number of days until Christmas 2015. 

You heard me; that’s what I said.

If you start now, it’s just the right amount of time to create a lovely family history book for your family this Christmas.

There are plenty of bookmaking companies to help you; you can have your pick. However, my first recommendation for creating family history books is MyCanvas by Alexander’s. With the MyCanvas templates for creating family history books, family tree posters and calendars it’s pretty easy to create a beautiful product in time for Christmas.

I’ve recently written an article about my experience creating a family history book with MyCanvas. You can read it on the MyCanvas blog.

MyCanvas has made some significant improvements since I made my first book. Of course you are not confined to a family history book, you can create family tree posters, custom calendars, collage posters and photo books.

MyCanvas was first established in 2007 by Alexander’s partnered with Ancestry to print the MyCanvas products and continues to print them today. When Ancestry made the announcement to discontinue MyCanvas, many family historians were devastated, Alexander’s came to the rescue and acquired the service.

Recently, Alexander’s has made a couple of changes to MyCanvas. They offer a new Share Feature. You can electronically share your book with friends and family, who can then print a copy from Share at any time.

And of course, the big one that many Canadians were waiting for, they now ship to Canada!!!!
Canadians, I have been told that your family history product will arrive at your door in 5-7 days. Of course, shipping costs will depend on the size of your book and quantity that you order. To get an estimate of shipping costs place your item in the cart and proceed to checkout where enter your location. For example, I priced a family tree poster and shipping to Canada was $15.00, pretty reasonable.

Currently, you still require an account to access the MyCanvas templates for family history books, posters and calendars. If you are an customer, your account will also give you access to However, I understand that these templates will soon be available to everyone.

As I’ve stated before Alexander’s offers wonderful customer service, their customer service department is open from 8 am – 5 pm Monday –Friday, MST.

If you would like to make any suggestions or give Alexander’s any feedback on the MyCanvas product, they are happy to hear from you, in fact they are seeking your input on any new features you may be looking for to help improve your experience with them.

So go ahead, with 87 days to go, you can confidently start your Christmas shopping now and create a family history book that your family will cherish.

(I am not an affiliate of MyCanvas and have received no compensation for this post. I’m just a happy customer)

Have you created a book using MyCanvas, would love to hear about your experience in comments?

New Tools for the Family History Writer

Many family historians struggle with writing their family history stories and that is partly due to not having the tools and knowledge they need to write those stories. I am dedicated to creating those tools to make life easier for family history writers. Today, I want to share with you  a variety of tools we have created over the last year to help in planning and writing those stories.

Online Classes

We are just finishing up our first course on the Family History Writing Studio, Family History Blog Writing. I’ve been very impressed with our first group of students who have been eager to improve and create stories for their family history blogs. Watch for more classes beginning in January, with sign-ups starting in November.

We now have our first webinar available. The Getting Ready to Write Webinar is the perfect accompaniment to the workbook.

The Getting Ready to Write Webinar includes

3 videos with over 2 hours of information. I walk you through the book, expanding further on the information. There are also a few bonuses.


·         A look inside my personal family history book
·         A hands-on look at my workflow using, Evernote, Citation Managers and Scrivener to create a productive and efficient workflow.


 Workbook 1, Getting Ready to Write has been doing very well. If you're not familiar with Workbook #1, it is designed to help you organize your research, you and your ancestors.  

Workbook #2 AuthenticAncestors helps you to choose an ancestor as a focus for your family history story. You’ll learn to dig deep to get to know your ancestor on a very intimate level. The more you know, the easier it becomes to write his or her story. Workbook 2 comes with the Authentic Ancestor Profile along with many other great worksheets to help you get personal with your ancestors.

Both of these workbooks are available as ebooks at The Studio, however, if you would prefer a paperback version, you can pick them up from

In Workbook three, Finding the Story, we are going to look at how to flesh out a story in your family history research. We then structure that story so that it will engage your reader and bring them along on a journey. This workbook is filled with great tools and tips to help you outline your stories, providing you with a definite plan when you sit down to write. I am very busy finishing up Workbook #3, for those of you who have pre-ordered, I appreciate your patience. Finding the Story will be arriving in late October.There will also be a webinar following in early 2016.

Family History Writing Challenge

Many of you have been asking me about The Family History Writing Challenge, will it return for its 6th year? The answer: of course it will! If you haven’t participated in the past, you can sign up here. If you have, relax you’re already to go, you’ll automatically receive our world-renown Daily Dose, filled with lessons and inspiration.

 But don’t get too comfortable, start thinking about what project you would like to tackle this year.  I’m in the planning stages now and look forward to seeing you again this year for 28 days of focused family history writing.

Free Webinar

As you can see, we’ve been busy bringing you new tools to help you write those family history stories. If you want to learn more about family history writing, join us in The Family History Writing Studio, there’s a free webinar waiting for you when you join. You can also like us on Facebook.

We've got plenty of more tools heading your way and if there is something specific you would like to see in The Family History Writing Studio, leave a comment below or email us at with your suggestions.