March 2011

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2011.

The first few months of this year have proved challenging for me with regards to family history information that I have shared with others. There was the tree on Ancestry that has my information linked to a family that is not related to mine in any way. I can prove this with documentation but there is nothing to be done.

Photographs that were shared with another researcher showed up on Ancestry without my knowledge. The photographs were shared with someone who was directly connected to the people in the photographs. They did not ask my permission to put my photographs online. One was attached to the wrong person. I respectfully requested that they be removed. They were and it was appreciated.

Then the photos showed up on other trees in Ancestry. They were probably copied to other researcher’s files before they were taken down. Now the problem of the photograph being attached to the wrong person is rampant throughout Ancestry’s family tree database and probably will continue throughout the internet.

Another family line was connected to a family tree where the link was minute. The two families married into the same family generations apart and were not direct lines. Still they had the family tree four generations down connected to their family tree.

When I requested the pictures to be taken down from the family trees some of the people could not understand why I would not share my information. One person said it should be online for all to find. Some got rather hostile.

If someone is found who shares a direct line I share my research. Now I only share information from the shared generation back and not forward. Sometimes I wish I knew back in the 1990s what I know now but as Maya Angelou says “You did what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better.”

While all this was going on Marian Pierre-Louis of Marian’s Roots and Rambles had a blog posting called “The Digital Age Discourages Sharing.” Marian discusses the fact that the internet encourages too much sharing and that if it is found on the internet then people feel that copyright does not apply. The sub topics were photos, writing, genealogy and the future. Go and read Marian’s blog posting as it is very informative and provides food for thought on the subject.

Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers has come out with a chart to help people decide whether or not to post an image. The blog post is called “Infographic – Should I Post This Image?”

The frustration for me is that it feels like people are collecting names to add to their tree to make it as big as possible. People are finding information on the internet and not examining it closely enough to make sure there really is a connection. They are not researching the records for themselves in order to prove the connection that was found on the internet really exists.

I understand the elation of finding information on the internet that seems to relate to your family. The excitement of finding distant cousins and family connections not previously known can be exhilarating. Gathering names from family trees posted on the internet is not doing family history research. In my opinion you are missing out on the best part of the research process by only focusing on the internet.

New information is being put on the internet everyday but at the same time less than 2% of all genealogical information is found online. At some point you will have to go to libraries and archives as well as purchase birth, marriage and death certificates to further your research.

The internet is a great tool, I use it everyday, but it is just a tool. To further my research I need to go to the brick and mortar repositories to find more information. Most of my brick walls are broken down with research in libraries and archives.

When I started my research in the 1970s you had to mail a letter of request and wait for a response. If payment was required you mailed that in a return letter. Then you had to wait for a response and hope that the search was successful. Finding distant relatives was not part of the process as they were difficult to locate.

In the 1980s there was the Genealogical Research Directory. You would pay to put in your names, dates and places of interest and a large book would come out each year. If you found a connection in the book you would write the person a letter and hopefully share some information.

I could not wait for the book to come out each year and went through it several times with a highlighter to make sure nothing was missed. Writing paper, envelopes and lots of stamps were purchased, not to mention International Reply Coupons. It was exciting to find a variety of envelopes in the mail box. I got quite a collection of stamps from around the world. A distant cousin in South Africa was found through this book. The family had not been in contact since both our Great Great Grandmother’s wrote to each other in the late 1800s.

In the 1990s when I started online you could use mailing lists to find people and share information but you still had to mail the information to them. It was at this time that it took one year from the time a family tree was sent to a distant cousin and another distant cousin was found who sent my own tree back to me. They did not know it had come from me in the first place. A little research showed it had been through four different people.

Now in the 2010s you can contact someone online and it is feasible that within 10 minutes or less you can have confirmation and information shared. You do not even have to contact anyone you can just download their tree from their website or the online database they are using. People are still sharing information with me that originated with me and they do not know it.

Now this will not stop me from sharing my information but it will curtail what and how much I share in the future. People need to understand the power the internet has and the effect it can have on your privacy. Maybe the pendulum will start to swing the other way and privacy will be in vogue again.

There also has to be a certain respect for the work and effort of the person who did the research on the family in the first place. There are notes in my family tree that tell me where the information came from originally. It includes a person’s name and contact information.

Two questions keep coming to mind – How can you be sure that the family tree you find online is really yours? How valid is the research that was done on the family tree that you have found?

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

A Vision of Britain Through Time is a very interesting website. It is a snapshot of Britain from 1801 to 2001 and includes maps, statistical trends and historical descriptions.

Whenever I go to websites like this I put in Stalybridge in Cheshire. It is a small village and a good test for this kind of site. There is a small map showing its location in Cheshire. You have subtopics of location, historical writing, units and statistics, related websites and places names. There is a link to the website Ancestral Atlas.

Location provides a small map and an entry from John Bartholomew’s Gazetteer of the British Isles from 1887. There is a note that suggests the information for the modern district of Tameside should be examined. The area of Stalybridge has changed and this is where additional information may be found.

If you click on the map you are taken to a page with links for ten topographic maps, thirteen boundary maps and three land use maps. The first part of the page contains the links and then there is a table of the maps with more details, thumbnail pictures and links below. If you click on the thumbnails you get a larger searchable map.

Using the link to Tameside you get historical statistics such as population, industry, social class, learning and language, agriculture and land use, life and death, work and poverty, housing and roots and religion. These links are the most useful to the family historian.

You will find a boundary map, unit history and boundary changes and related higher and lower level units.

Back to Stalybridge under historical writing you find descriptive gazetteer entries and entries found in travel writing. Under travel writings you find an entry from John Wesley, 1744-45.

Under units and statistics you have election results for three constituencies for Stalybridge. You will find six different administrative areas for Stalybridge and historical statistics with the same topics as Tameside. If you click on the area you want to examine it takes you to another page. There is a note above the table to be careful as a unit may cover a town, village or larger surrounding area. Units with the suffixes of RD or RSD may exclude the place they are named after.

Related websites had one entry for Genuki with two links to different pages. Then there are links to other websites that have information that is geo-referenced and covers Stalybridge. I chose Flickr where you find some photographs relating to the general area of Stalybridge. They are modern photographs and provide a look at the village today.

Place names provide the different references for the village. There is a link to the travel writing or descriptive gazetteer where the place name is found. There is a listing of names found in administrative units which are associated with Stalybridge.

Other general topics include statistical atlas, historical maps, census reports, travel writing and learning resources. Statistical atlas contains the same topics found in Tameside under historical statistics but it is more general in nature. Historical maps contain maps from places such as England, Wales, Scotland, Great Britain and Europe.

Census reports cover the years 1801 to 1971. Each year contains different statistical information but it would be worth investigating to find out more about your geographical area of interest.

Travel writings cover England, Scotland and Wales. The works of James Boswell, Samuel Johnson and John and Charles Wesley, amongst others, can be found under this heading. The writings range from Gerald Wales description of Wales in the 1190s to George Borrow’s trip through Wales in 1854.

The last general topic is Learning Resources. Here you can view E-learning tutorials for agricultural changes, travelling, mapping boundaries, census taking and changing constituencies.

This website will provide family historians with a good idea of how their ancestors may have lived and the times in which they lived. The maps are a good resource to help you with your research and the notes on boundary changes are invaluable.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

Happy St. Patrick’s Day – Beannacht Lá Fhéile Pádraig – everyone.

The Linen Hall Library has put digital images from their postcard, cartoon and map collections on the Belfast Telegraph website. You can view the image and purchase a copy. The words Belfast Telegraph appear right in the middle of the image and while I understand they have done this to prevent people downloading the images, it is a little off putting and can make it difficult to clearly see the image.

Despite this it is worth going in and having a look at what is available. The postcard images may be found in the Linen Hall Library in Belfast but they cover all areas of Ireland. They show Ireland in a simpler time. The cartoons take you back in time and some can be humourous. The maps section is not as large as the other two.

One thing that would be nice is if we had the ability to enlarge the image and manipulate it to better see some areas. This is particularly true for the maps. A date or year of the document would also be useful.

Have a look around the website and see what can be found. I spent an enjoyable hour looking at the images.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

Dublin City Libraries and Archive have put images and special collections online.

The Digital Collections Gallery has 529 images and counting. There are photographs from the 1974 Dublin Bombings; Dublin’s Sporting Heritage which honours the fact that Dublin was made European Capital of Sport in 2010; Vanishing Dublin shows places that have disappeared or changed completely in the last half of the twentieth century; Dublin Pubs provides images of pubs both past and present; and Working for the City which is photographs of Dublin City staff at work.

The sporting heritage photos that sparked memories for me were the Liffey Swim of 1999, the Royal Dublin Horseshow and Landsdowne Road. My grandfather won the Liffey Swim when he was a young man. We used to go to the Royal Dublin Horseshow if we were in town when it was on and Landsdowne Road was near where my grandparents lived.

The saddest one for me was Vanishing Dublin. In some of the pictures you would not recognize the area anymore. The photo of Moore Street in 1959 brought back fond memories. I can remember in the 1970s going down to Moore Street and the ladies still used perambulators to transport their wares. Moore Street today is still a market place but things have changed.

The Working for the City gallery is a reminder of how the way we do things sometimes does not change. The cleansing department is a couple of men with brushes pushing two bins on a cart. I remember the Liffey clean up in 1976.

The next gallery is Improvement Works which is current improvements to two libraries in Dublin.

The last gallery is Treasures from the Collections. Capital Letters shows a few of the collections they own by Irish authors. Celebrate! is about festivals, feasts, civic events and commemorations that were held in Dublin. Here you will find a souvenir of the Parnell monument unveiling in 1911, a photograph of the royal visit in 1911, the Papal visit in 1979 and a yearbook from the Dalkey Festival in 1989 amongst other items.

Getting Around provides images of maps and other items relating to the theme. Unfortunately they are not the complete item but snippets. Other collections include Little Treasures which contains material related to children, Rich and Rare which showcases books, manuscripts and broadsheets held by Dublin City Public Libraries, and Women’s Health and Wellbeing which features advertisements promoting “medicines” marketed towards women.

The photographs were most interesting to me. The other items provide a small image and not much else because you have to go into Dublin City Public Libraries & Archive to view the originals and to find out more.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

Did you know that you can view online video courses for free at Family Search? You can find courses on researching records in Ireland, England, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Mexico, Russia and the United States.

There are a series of courses on Research Principles and Tools plus Reading Handwritten Records.

The Association of Professional Genealogists, Board for Certification of Genealogists and ICAPGen – The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists have lectures available on the site.

You click on download course and get a video. There is a course outline and/or handouts available in PDF form. You can offer feedback on the courses.

Some courses you click on the course title and go right into a video with a PowerPoint presentation running beside it. In these courses look below the video to see if there are any handouts or other information. You are also given information on the length of the presentation and references to sponsors.

These courses provide good information to help you with your research and assist you with methodology. The accreditation, certification, and professional presentations provide aids for professionals and those thinking of becoming professionals.

If you have half an hour, why not go in and take a quick course on Irish Immigration.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

The first thing that comes to mind for March is St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th. In Wales it is St. David’s day on March 1st. On March 8th it is Working Woman’s Day. In addition March is Woman’s History month and National Craft month so let’s look at these celebrations as well.

The first week of March is St. David’s Day. Have you been to the National Library of Wales website? They have a great website full of interesting things that relate to your family history. They have an interesting article on “Women’s Clothes 400 Years Ago” and there are links to other articles.

The section on Family History is very informative. If you look at Search Archival Databases it provides you with a list of online databases to help you with your research. There is even free access to digital images of wills through the online index.

There is a list of genealogical sources available at the library. Here they provide a little background into the record source as well as telling you what is accessible in the library and online.

Finally take a look at the section on Further Reading. This will provide you with more resources to help you with your search.

The second week of March lets research our female lines. Search for the females in your family that did not marry. Sometimes they can provide more information than their married sisters. A will of an unmarried lady could provide names of siblings, nieces, nephews and other family members. It was usually the unmarried ladies that knew the family history and may have held some important documents.

Since March 8th is Working Woman’s Day lets investigate the history of traditional female jobs. How has housework changed in the last 100 years? What did your pioneer ancestor have to deal with to try and keep her family and home clean? What other responsibilities besides housework and raising children did women have?

We talk of spring cleaning, were there other season specific chores that your female ancestors completed? How is your life different to that of your four times Great Grandmother? Research these activities and write up a synopsis to add to your family history.

The third week of March is St. Patrick’s Day so this week we will look specifically at your Irish ancestors. If you know the county, town or parish of origin do you know what records are available for those areas? Two excellent resource books are James Ryan’s “Irish Records: Sources for Family and Local History” and John Grenham’s “Tracing your Irish Ancestors,” all three editions. Another good resource is James Ryan’s “Irish Church Records.” These three books will help you discover what records are available in the area you are researching.

A good online resource is the Sources database at the National Library of Ireland. This is an online version of Hayes Manuscripts and provides locations of records relating to Ireland.

The fourth and fifth week of March lets get creative. Create a scrapbook page or whole book for one family unit. Or maybe collect all those family recipes and put them into a cookbook and add some pictures and family stories.

If you are particularly energetic make a few of the recipes and take photographs to add to the book. This could be fun if the recipes are from 100 years ago or more. What would your family think if you served them a dinner that their three times Great Grandmother might have served?

Have some fun with your family history this month.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research