Archive for September, 2006

Put me through to Sir Winston

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

For UK genealogists a gap in the records have been filled with the availability of telephone directories between 1880 and 1984. The 100 year rule on census returns means that there is little genealogical information available online for the 20th century. British Telecom through are now making available some of the telephone directories. Initially they are for London, Surrey, Herts, Essex, Kent and Middlesex, with the rest of the country following next year.

Apparently there are listed numbers and adddresses for some famous people including Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, Sir Winston Churchill, Harry Houdini, Laurence Olivier and Ian Fleming. The mind boggles that in those days you could pick up the phone and dial Sir Winston’s home.
Background article on 24 hour museum website’s page to search telephone directories

Talk Like A Pirate Day

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

GAR means Google Answers Researcher, but it’s also a good sound for a pirate to make, so once a year, on September 19, we join millions of other people around the world to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day.

You can join in too! If you’re new to this, check out How To Talk Like a Pirate (including chat-up lines, and sound samples in German, Chinese and Swedish).

Google was asked to show a special logo today. Unfortunately, they couldn’t bring themselves to do so, but they did at least reply in Pirate talk.

The ever-talented pinkfreud-ga has even composed The Google Pirate Song for your reading pleasure:

We are the Google Pirates,
We sails the Seven Seas;
We codes with Seven Sea-plus-plus
To please our parities.

There’s a parity on one shoulder
And a JPEG leg we attach,
And to hide the eye the hook poked out
We wears a software patch.

We has big shiny earrings,
But they makes our earlobes rot;
We thinks perhaps they ain’t real gold
(For a buck an ear they’re not.)

We are the Google Pirates
‘Cuz that is who we are.
We are the Google Pirates. GAR. GAR. GAR.


Royal Society archives now online

Thursday, September 14th, 2006

The Royal Society has placed the complete archives of its journals online, dating right back to March 1665.

Access to the articles (as scanned PDFs) is free until December. After that, you can buy a reprint of the whole lot for a hefty £5071/$9866 – or view single articles online for a smaller charge.

To whet your appetite, here’s wonderful piece from 1751: “An Account of Mr. Benjamin Franklin’s Treatise, Lately Published, Intituled, Experiments and Observations on Electricity, Made at Philadelphia in America”.


I also enjoyed “Account of a Very Remarkable Young Musician”, a letter from 1769 referring to an 8-year-old Mozart.
(via The Register)

Google’s News Archive Search

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

Google has launched a news archive search that searches across two news databases:

  • The archives of the Google News service, and
  • The historical archives of print publications such as the Washington Post, New York Times, Newspaper Archive, Time Magazine, the Boston Globe and many more.

Most of the older articles are subscription-only or pay-per-view, but there are also some freely-viewable historical pieces from BBC News, Time Magazine and the Guardian. Every article, pay or free, has a two-line snippet which is sometimes useful in its own right.

There is also an advanced archive search where you can search by date or by source, and can exclude articles known to require payment.


What makes the archive search particularly interesting is that you can browse a timeline view. You can see how a subject has developed over the decades, from the 1800’s to the present day.

For example, a search for “Eiffel Tower” shows a host of articles dating from 1889, including these quirky ones:

  • Eiffel Tower as a Winter Resort (1890)
  • “The Eiffel Tower bicycle is the newest sensation among the wheelmen of Berlin…” (1896)
  • Miniature Eiffel Tower displayed in Shoe Heel (1936)
  • German climbs Eiffel Tower, wins a Bath (1954)
  • Tom Cruise proposes to Katie Holmes at Eiffel Tower (2005)

(via Reto Meier)

British surname?

Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

If you are British, or descend from a British ancestor, then the surname profiler web site may be of interest.

Type in your surname and a map will show the distribution in the UK of the name for 1881 and 1981.

Suggest you read the ‘small print’ to understand how the data was collected and its meaning.