March 2010

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2010.

Recently I came across a new blog called “On a flesh and bone foundation: Irish History” and found it very interesting. Jennifer Geraghty-Gorman is researching her Grandmother and her family who lived in Dublin at the start of the 20th century. The Magee family was also involved in the Irish War of Independence.

Jennifer’s blog provides a good description of how family and history come together. She shows the effects of the Irish War of Independence on the family and how the death of a beloved son affected them.

Jennifer shares her trials and tribulations of doing research in Ireland as well as the joys and sorrows of seeing the places that played a big role in her family’s lives.

I would suggest that you visit the blog and have a great read.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

Have you ever tried the Scotland’s People website? This website is run by the Government of Scotland and overseen by Brightsolid who also own “Find My Past” and may soon own “Genes Reunited”.

This is a genealogist’s dream website as it has the complete civil registration and census records online. They are indexed and there are digital images available. You can also find copies of probate records as well as Old Parish Registers for baptisms, marriage banns and burials. The burial records are not complete so please check the reference to OPR burials on the website that tells you what years and places are available.

There is a fee involved and it is 6 GBP which at the current rate of exchange is approximately 9.30 CDN. You get 30 credits for this price. Theoretically to view the index page and one image would cost you 1.86 CDN.

To view an index page of 25 entries will cost 1 credit. A search may come up with more than twenty five entries but they tell you how many search results there are. You then have the option of narrowing down the search before opening the index page.

Once in the index page if you find the correct entry you click on view image. This will cost you 5 credits per image viewed. If you decide to search to either side of the original image remember that will also cost you 5 credits per image. They clearly make note of this on the website.

The search process is the same for all the documents available except for the Wills and Testaments. You can search the index and see the results of the search for free. If you find a document it will cost you 5 GBP (7.75 CDN) to view the entire file. The file could be one, two or eleven pages the price would be the same.

Scotland’s People also have several places that can help you with your research. If you are having difficulty reading the handwriting there is a section to help you with this problem. Check under Help & Resources to see what other reference materials they have that can help you with your research.

In my experience if I have ever had a problem with the images it has been rectified very quickly. Once I clicked on an index entry that was supposed to be for my ancestor in the census. When the page came up they were not there and no one with the same surname was on the page. I emailed Scotland’s People to let them know and a couple of days later I got a response and the credits were put back into my account. Once I even got a few extra credits as an apology which was very nice indeed.

One thing you must do with Scotland’s People is read the directions and descriptions on the website very carefully.

The Registers of Corrected Entries for example. These show up if the page you have downloaded has one attached to it. There is a little red box at the top and it costs you 2 credits to view this entry. The only problem is that it can be for any of the people listed on the birth, marriage or death entry. Read the entry carefully as you should find a reference to the RCE in the right hand margin of the entry page. This will tell you if the RCE relates to your ancestor.

Educate yourself on the counties and parishes of Scotland to help you better identify your ancestors in the indexes.

Remember that the Old Parish Registers deal only with the established church in Scotland. Scotland’s church history is too complicated to cover here but you can find a good reference to it in “Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry” by Kathleen B. Cory, Third Edition, Revised and Updated by Leslie Hodgson, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. 2004. In the Illustrations section, figure 7, is a copy of “Burleigh’s Chart of Scottish Churches” which outlines the complicated history. If you do a Google search for “Burleigh’s Chart of Scottish Churches” you can find it in Google Books.

You can let the purchasing of credits and searching get away from you if you are not careful. Too save a little money you can always search the Scottish Civil Registration Indexes on microfilm at some Mormon Family History Centres. I know my local one has a complete set but yours might not so check it out.

Ancestry also has indexes to the Scottish census records but no images. Check these census indexes to help narrow down your search on Scotland’s People.

You will still have to view the index page to get to the image at Scotland’s People but you will know what you are looking for and may not have to view as many index pages.

My Scottish blood insists that I find the best way to save a penny no matter what I am purchasing!

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

Do you listen to podcasts online or on your IPod/MP3 Player? They are free and very useful to the genealogist. In fact podcasts are all I listen to on my IPod! I subscribe to many different types of podcasts through ITunes.

The big one for me is The National Archives of England. They put new podcasts out regularly. They are recordings of slide presentations that are given at The National Archives in Kew. My only regret is that I am unable to see the slides and therefore the documents that they reference in the seminar.

I subscribe so every time my IPod is attached to my computer it is being updated. I have learned about World War 1 records, land and estate records, Irish and Scottish genealogy just to name a few. All this was done while riding the bus to the Ontario Archives.

Others that I listen to are “Digging up your Roots”, “Family History Expos Genealogy Podcast” and the “Genealogy Gems Podcast”. I also listen to other podcasts that can help with my genealogy such as “Oxford Biographies”, “Documentary One on RTE” (Irish Radio), “English Heritage” and “Great Lives”. These all provide me with background information.

One little gem I found for writing my family history was an Open University program which is found under ITunesU. Open University is a program on British television where people can take a university course by correspondence or just for interest. Open University has been around for a long time. There are seven episodes to help you write your family history.

These are just the ones I listen to; there are many others that cover a wide spectrum of genealogy. When you go in do a general search for both genealogy and family history. Some will come up under both searches but you will find others that can only be found in one search field. You may even find podcasts that do not relate to family history but to family. Go through the list to see what is there as you never know what you may find.

You do not have to subscribe to the general podcast. If there is one particular entry you are interested in you can download that specific podcast. You may discover that after a while the podcasts are not relating to your requirements so you can delete the subscription and try another one.

Unfortunately sometimes there are only a few podcasts to be found under certain titles. The last podcast may have been put up 2 or 3 years ago and then they stopped. Check these out anyway as you may find something of interest. Occasionally you will find a video podcast which adds another dimension.

Your local library may also allow for downloads of books that could relate to your family history or a book you may have wanted to check out. These can be downloaded from your public library website but you will only be able to use the files until the check out time has expired.

There are a wide variety of topics available in a format that is easily portable.

The one thing to remember is that all of these are free to download. Have fun!

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

This is a day when the world goes to pubs and drinks green beer. In fact up until the last half of the twentieth century Ireland was dry on St. Patrick’s Day. The pubs had to close for the holiday. Everyone wears green for St. Patrick’s Day but did you know the national colour of Ireland is actually blue.

This year the parades started on the weekend since the big day falls mid week. In Toronto on Sunday there was green all around for the annual parade. The oldest parade in Canada is in Montreal which started in 1824. Newfoundland is the only place in Canada that has a legal holiday on St. Patrick’s Day. The Islanders are mostly of Irish descent with a good number of their ancestors from Waterford and Wexford.

The Irish Diaspora has contributed greatly to countries around the world. When the Irish first arrived the one thing they could give to their new homelands was their brute strength and the will to get things done. Through the generations their circumstances have improved and the ancestors of those original Irish immigrants are helping to build stronger and more productive communities around the world. Some have even returned to the old sod to create a stronger Ireland.

I am a first generation Canadian. My roots are still very connected to Ireland. The family covers the whole island from north, south, east and west. There are professionals, land owners, roof thatchers, and farmers.

St. Patrick’s Day started as a remembrance of the death of St. Patrick who died on 17 March 461 AD. Now it has turned into a huge celebration of Ireland and the Irish people around the world. Everyone is Irish on this day no matter where their ancestors were born. So everyone have a Guinness and celebrate Ireland and her people.

Beannacht Lá Fhéile Pádraig – Rút

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

I have watched the first two episodes of “Who Do You Think You Are?” and have been enjoying the program very much. These episodes have dealt with several important aspects of United States history which I found interesting and learned something new.

The shows for Sarah Jessica Parker and Emmitt Smith both focused on one family line. The British shows, more often than not, cover several family lines which can make the journey more inclusive.

Unfortunately with North American television there is the requirement of many commercial breaks. As a result the length of the program is shortened which does not allow for much leeway in the amount information they can cover in one hour.

There has been a lot of talk about wanting to hear the stories of ordinary people. Why do they have to use celebrities? One thing to remember is that whether Sarah Jessica Parker is an actress or a cashier her family history would still be the same.

What is more or less certain in relation to your family history is that you will learn about different countries while doing your research. In North America almost everyone comes from somewhere else. This series will introduce people to countries and their histories that they might not have previously known.

If you have a family connected to one of the places or events featured they may also provide you with new sources to research your own family history.

The ratings for the program have been good. If this keeps up would they possibly consider doing another season? I think that would be fantastic!

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

The last few weeks while Vancouver has been hosting the Olympics the Maple Leaf has been flying strong and proud all over the country. No more so than in the closing ceremonies when every Canadian stereotype was marched into the stadium.

Did you ever wonder how the Maple Leaf became such a symbol for Canada or how the song “Maple Leaf Forever” came into being? You can find out at the Toronto Public Library website where they have a bit of the history of the Maple Leaf and the song.

http://ve.torontopubliclibrary.ca/Canada_Day/

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

The saying that “you don’t know who you are until you know where you came from” holds true for a lot of people. You will discover that as you start researching your family tree you will find out what your ancestors had to go through to get you where you are now. Their journey explains a lot about who you are as a person.

We all make our own choices in life and have our own unique or shared experiences as we travel though it. But these are not the only things that create who we are. The choices and experiences of our parents and ancestors also got us to where we are now whether we acknowledge it or not.

If my parents had not decided to leave Ireland in the 1950s I would be Irish and not Canadian. The choice my father made as a result of high unemployment in Ireland changed the course of his descendents lives.

It wasn’t just the choices of my parents that got me where I am. If my great grandfather, a commercial traveller for Quaker Oats who lived in Lancashire, hadn’t walked down that street in Limerick and spotted my great grandmother things again would have been different.

The experiences of your ancestors and the choices they make or those that are made for them have shaped who you are as a person. The results of these experiences formed our ancestor’s beliefs, passions, opinions, fears and loyalties. As a result this helped them decide how to raise their families and what values to instill in their children.

As you go through the research process you may find that some things have not changed for your family through the last century but then again some things may have changed drastically. Where did your family’s work ethic come from? Why did your family have to leave their homeland?

In 1685 the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in France sent my Huguenot Sers family to London England. In the mid to late 1700s a branch went to Dublin Ireland. These choices whether made by my ancestors or made for them as a result of other circumstances changed the path of their descendents lives.

Researching family history is not just looking at the individual person or family. You will have to learn about different kinds of history such as social, political, economic and military, as well as border changes and religious beliefs and freedoms. All these created your family history and as a result helped put you where you are today.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

The United States version of this popular British television show is to air on March 5th on NBC television. This show has crossed the globe with Canada, Ireland, Australia, Sweden, Poland and South Africa all creating their own versions of “Who Do You Think You Are?” since the programs inception in 2004.

In Britain it is not just the television show “Who Do You Think You Are?” there is also the monthly magazine, website and family history exhibition, “Who Do You Think You Are? Live” that is held annually the last weekend of February.

I have had the pleasure of watching the versions from Canada, Britain and Australia. The stories have been interesting and along the way I learned something new. The BBC production of Jane Horrocks family history took her to Lancashire to see how her family was involved in the cotton industry. My family was also involved in the cotton industry in Lancashire so I learned a bit of history that related to my family story from her family story.

The Canadian version lasted one season and was only half an hour in length. A bit disappointing since you couldn’t really get into the journey of discovering the celebrity’s family history. In North America there is the unavoidable “commercial time” that cuts into the program. This is not as much of an issue in Britain and Australia.

There has been a lot of talk that people are disappointed in the fact that they are not showing the research process in this program and others like it. They believe this causes people to think they can just go online and find out their family history without doing much leg work.

The point of these programs is to present a story that the viewers will find interesting. I just enjoy the story aspect of the program and how the celebrity reacts to what is discovered about their family’s past.

How many of us actually knew what it took to research our family history when we first started? Something hooked us and we began our road of discovery into our own personal history. We learned the process along the way. If we knew the work involved would we have actually started researching our family history?

Let’s enjoy the ride that these people are embarking on and share their joys and sorrows in discovering their family stories.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research