Genealogy Blog

21 July 2014

Mysteries of Medieval Graffiti in England's Churches

Medieval graffiti of straw kings, pentagrams, crosses, ships and "demon traps" have been offering a tantalising glimpse into England's past. What do the pictures reveal about life in the Middle Ages?

A project to record the graffiti, which began in Norfolk, has now been rolled out to other areas and is gradually spreading across England. Armed with just a torch and a camera, a team of volunteers have recorded more than 28,000 images from churches in Norfolk alone and are a third of the way through searching Norwich Cathedral, where there are many more examples.

Source & Full Story

10 July 2014

First Aussie To Die in WWI Recognised

The name of the soldier who may well be the first Australian killed in World War I has been added to the Australian War Memorial's commemorative roll, nearly 100 years after he was killed in action.

Australian-born Lt William Malcolm Chisholm was serving in a British uniform when he was wounded in the Battle of Le Cateau, on August 26, 1914, just three days after arriving in France, and died the next day, aged 22.

Source & Full Story

17 June 2014

Ashes of WWII Chinese Soldiers from Burma Buried in Yunnan

Twenty-two urns containing the ashes of soldiers from the Chinese Expeditionary Forces who fought against the Japanese during World War II were transported from Burma and reburied in China’s Yunnan Province last week.

In 1942, two brigades of Chinese soldiers from the Chinese Expeditionary Forces were part of the Allied Forces led by US commander Gen Joseph "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell.

Source & Full Story

13 June 2014

Tuam Mother and Baby Home: The Trouble with the Septic Tank Story

"I never used that word 'dumped'," Catherine Corless, a local historian in Co Galway, tells The Irish Times. "I never said to anyone that 800 bodies were dumped in a septic tank. That did not come from me at any point. They are not my words."

The story that emerged from her work was reported this week in dramatic headlines around the world. Corless, who lives outside Tuam, has been working for several years on records associated with the former St Mary’s mother-and-baby home in the town. Her research has revealed that 796 children, most of them infants, died between 1925 and 1961, the 36 years that the home, run by Bon Secours, existed.

Source & Full Story

4 June 2014

Then and Now in Pictures: 70 Years Later, Normandy's Beaches Retain Memory of D-Day Invasion

As many around the world prepare to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings of June 6, 1944, pictures of Normandy's now-touristy beaches stand in stark contrast to images taken around the time of the invasion.

But while the landscape has changed, the memory of the momentous event lives on.

Source & Pictures

27 May 2014

Online Archive of WWI Letters Gives Glimpse Into the Irish Experience of War

A large archive of letters from the frontline of WWI is being built at and the public is being invited to contribute materials from the era which may have been passed down in the family.

Professor Susan Schreibman of NUI Maynooth who is assembling the archive told the Irish Independent: "It's a crowd-sourcing project that depends on public participation. Not only do we value material sent in, but people can go online and transcribe the letters."

Source & Full Story

A Mysterious 19th-Century Tattoo Artist, Identified At Last

With a quarter of Americans sporting at least one tattoo, it’s become impossible to walk down the street in summertime without navigating a virtual museum of color on skin. But who are the artists?

Unlike a painting or a piece of music, which are closely identified with their creators, tattoos are less likely to come with an authorial pedigree. Never mind being able to identify someone else’s piece—many people (including me) don’t know the names of all the artists who produced their own.

Source & Full Story

26 May 2014

First World War Diaries Reveal 'Sports' Played in the Trenches

Pillow fights, wheelbarrow races, and wrestling on mules were among entertainments arranged by officers to maintain morale among British troops in the trenches during the first world war, according to a sports day programme dated 31 October 1914 – among more than 700 digitised war diaries made available online by the National Archives.

Other "company sports" designed to take minds off the battles included blindfold squad drill, blindfold driving, tug of war, a boat race, and a high jump.

Source & Full Story

The Couple Who Killed Themselves To Avoid the Horrors of WWI

A heartbreaking suicide pact taken in 1915 between a soldier and his wife so they could avoid the horrors of the First World War has been discovered in archives.

Shadrach Critchley, 35, and his wife Annie, 45, were found lying side by side on a mattress at their home in Leigh, Greater Manchester, on Monday May 24, 1915 - shortly after Mr Critchley was recruited to the Cheshire Regiment. A newspaper cutting from the time reveals that alongside the couple were two handwritten notes, expressing their wish 'never to be parted'.

Source & Full Story

Amsterdam To Compensate Jews for WWII Taxes, Fines

Amsterdam says it will pay compensation to Jewish residents who fled or were forced from their homes during World War II — and returned to find overdue taxes and late payment fines waiting for them.

The city council says in Thursday’s statement it will repay survivors or their families 820,000 euros ($1.1 million). It plans a wider investigation into unfair postwar charges. Mayor Eberhard van der Laan said: “With the eyes of today, but also with the eyes of then, the city levying fines on war victims was formalistic and inappropriate.”

Source & Full Story

10 Intimate Photographs of World War II Soldiers in the Buff

The fleet is in! And so is My Buddy: World War II Laid Bare (Taschen Books), an astounding collection assembled by the excellent smut historian Dian Hanson.

We see, in this chunky Taschen volume, hundreds of nameless men photographed in groups, nude or nearly so, by fellow soldiers, sailors, corpsmen, and airmen.

Source & Full Story

13 May 2014

WWII French and German Soldiers Are Best Friends 70 Years After Normandy Landings

When Leon Gautier landed on Sword Beach in a hail of enemy fire on June 6, 1944 the last thing he expected was that 70 years later one of the 'Boches' he was fighting against would be a friend and neighbour.

Yet today, Mr Gautier, now 91, and Johannes Boerner, 88, live side-by-side in the very town where the French commando came ashore in the first wave of the D-Day invasion. They are two of the dwindling number of veterans of the Allies' Normandy landings and the ensuing three-month battle to push German forces back on the western front of Nazi-occupied Europe.

Source & Full Story

New Project To Look at Medieval Miracles in the British Isles

A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge have started creating an online database to categorize the miracles found in saints’ lives that were written in Britain and Ireland between 500 and 1300.

Known as Mapping Miracles, the project is run by Robert Gallagher, Julianne Pigott and Sarah Waidler of the University of Cambridge along with Jennifer Key of the University of St.Andrews. By developing this database, they hope to show what were the similarities and differences in the miracles recorded in saints’ lives, even those that were written in other different parts of the British Isles and centuries apart.

Source & Full Story

7 May 2014

Were Red Cross Parcels Invented in Bristol in WWI?

Wednesday January 8 1919, 11am. Hundreds of men, most of them pale, all of them thin – some dangerously so – started to gather on Corn Street. They stood in small groups chatting, sharing cigarettes, waiting.

Most were in uniform, and fell silent as an officer – Major Dinham, 2nd Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment – standing on the Council House steps, called for order.

Source & Full Story

28 April 2014

Slave Girl Who Changed History

Earlier this year, the film 12 Years A Slave — a searingly brutal account of the helplessness of 19th-century slaves in America’s Deep South — swept the 'best picture' category at the leading Hollywood award ceremonies.

Now, a new film made in Britain will tell the story of the remarkable relationship that may have lain at the heart of the abolition of slavery on this side of the Atlantic. It centres on the 1st Earl of Mansfield, the most influential Lord Chief Justice of the 18th century, and the woman he helped to raise — Dido Elizabeth Belle, the daughter of a black slave woman.

Source & Full Story

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