Ruth’s Recommendations

Here are my favourite blog posts from this past week.

The NLI Blog had a post called Hidden History written by Eimear Walsh a NLI Manuscript Student. She is working on the papers for the Headfort Estate in County Meath. The Taylour family left a lot of material. She found that some letters were written by people who sounded like they were children but were not in Burke’s Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage. She did a little research and found the answer. She even found a connection to a Governor General of Canada.

Pue’s Occurrences The Irish History Blog had a post entitled Living at the edge of the world by Kevin O’Sullivan. He examines the question how did they live here.

There is a new blog called Irish Genealogy And Family History which looks like it could be interesting.

Are there any postings in the last week that you think need to be on this list? Let me know in the comments below.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Springfield Illinois – Part Two

This is my second post on the FGS conference in Springfield Illinois. You can find part one here.

Thursday was a very long day. I was helping out at the booth for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies in the marketplace. The marketplace was supposed to open at 10 am but they opened at 9:30 because they just could not wait to get in.

I was able to attend a few lectures during the day and the market place was open until 8 pm. It was great to meet all the different people attending the conference. Some were already students but many became first time students as the National Institute provided a coupon for a free course called “Google for the Wise Genealogist” in the bag given to registrants.

During the day I got to meet many of the bloggers who I read on a daily basis and it was nice to put a person behind the written word. In the evening Geneabloggers held a social evening so I went to that when the marketplace closed. It was a long day but I enjoyed myself.

On Friday I had the opportunity to interview Randy Seaver. He was my premier interview and I will have his interview on this blog in the very near future. Other bloggers I interviewed during the conference were Thomas MacEntee, Gena Philibert Ortega and Lisa Alzo. These interviews will also be put on the blog in the near future.

While working at the booth and doing my interviews I managed to find time to attend a few lectures. Thankfully some of the lectures were recorded so I was able to purchase them.

Saturday was another long day. I finished off my interviews and attended more lectures. The marketplace closed at 5 pm so we packed up and started the drive home. We drove for five hours on Saturday night and then continued the drive home on Sunday.

The conferences are always busy, exciting, eventful and tiring but any time I get to attend a conference I will always say yes. I really enjoy everything to do with a conference from meeting new people, catching up with old friends, learning new things, seeing new places and I usually find something new that increases my passion for genealogy even more.

If you get a chance to attend a conference I would highly recommend it. There is Rootstech in February and the National Genealogical Society is on May 9-12, 2012 in Cincinnati Ohio. The Ontario Genealogical Society Conference is June 1-3, 2012 in Kingston Ontario. Next year’s FGS Conference is in Birmingham Alabama 29th August to 1 September.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Springfield Illinois – Part One

I had the great pleasure to attend the FGS Conference in Springfield Illinois from September 6-10th. I have been playing catch up since I got home so this is a little late. I went down with Louise St. Denis and Susanna de Groot from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.

We drove down to Springfield on the Tuesday and arrived just as the blogger reception hosted by FamilySearch began. I had an invitation to this event and was warmly greeted by everyone.

They announced the opening of registration for the Rootstech Conference to be held in Salt Lake City from February 2-4, 2012. You can sign up for early registration here and it costs $129 until November 30th when the price goes up to $189. Rootstech 2012 sounds like it is going to be better than this year.

They have launched a new database for Civil War Era Records.

They also talked about Field Express where they take images from digital cameras and put them straight on the web. These images can be browsed but are not indexed. The turn around time for this is about four weeks but they are trying to streamline it to two weeks.

This type of operation has a lower cost and by putting images directly online means we do not have to wait to have the index created by volunteers before we can view the images.

If you have some spare time you might want to consider volunteering for the FamilySearch indexing project.

FamilySearch are increasing the number of images that are captured in the field. In 2011 they have published nearly ten million and they hope to double this number by the end of the year.

Family History Archives is going to replace the Brigham Young University’s database of genealogy and family history books. It is in beta at the moment and you can access it on the FamilySearch Labs site.

There is a new search engine that is easier to use and more powerful. The site will include all the previously scanned material and will be uploading new and previously unavailable material.

On Wednesday we toured Springfield and visited everything Lincoln. We visited his house, his tomb and the Presidential Museum. The Presidential Museum had a wonderful production highlighting aspects of his life and presidency. The bombs during the Civil War section really made your teeth rattle.

They also had a production that looked at the ghosts that can be found in material held by archives. Unless you go into the archives to search the material these ghosts and their stories will remain forever silent.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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A Must See Resource for Islander Researchers

The Island Archives Centre at the University of Prince Edward Island is a great resource for people with ancestors from the island.

They are digitizing many records and they are being put online.

Island Lives is a collection of PEI’s local histories. You can search by title, people, places and organization name. When you search by people and choose a name then you get a selection of publications where the name is found. You can read online, download or borrow the resource. You are only able to borrow if you live in PEI. You may be able to find the books via Inter Library loan.

Island Newspapers are endeavoring to develop a collection of PEI historic newspapers. The newspapers available will eventually date back to the early 1800s. You can view The Guardian (1880-1921), The Cadre (1969-) and The Sun (1977-). This is a work in progress.

Island Voices is an oral history audio archive that has been created by Reg “Dutch” Thompson a well known historian. The archives mostly cover the 1920s thorough the 1940s. They have a User Guide to help you search and use the database.

Island Stories is still a work in progress and not searchable. They are going to help the community to preserve any archival material that they may have and make it available to others.

Island Images is described as “the most complete collection of visuals by Islanders, and about Islanders. Drawing from the rich collections of the University of Prince Edward Island” and others. This is not available yet.

Island Imagined is a wonderful collection of PEI maps, atlases and gazetteers. There are approximately 1000 such documents. The maps come from The Prince Edward Island Archives and Public Record Office, the Prince Edward Island Museum and Heritage Foundation, and the Robertson Library, University of Prince Edward Island.

These maps are interactive. You have three choices: map overlays, map timeline and island timeline. Map overlays have a choice of four maps and they put the map over a current Google Maps image. Map timeline has a line of years across the bottom and when you click on 1900AD then the maps relating to that time period are presented and you can click on the map to view a description. When you click on the title of the description you get an image of the map which you can manipulate to zoom in or out.

Island timeline is an Island history timeline. You click on a time period and a group of selections appear on the timeline. If you click one of them you get a description of an event that happened. You can not click on the titles to find out more. This is a great resource to put flesh on the bones of your family history.

There is a section called Learn More and here you can find FAQ, learning guides, working with maps, articles and online books. Eventually you will also be able to access lesson plans.

Other Collections details and links to other resources. University of PEI provides descriptions and links to archival material relating to the University. There is also a link to Digital Herbarium where they are digitizing and providing access to plant specimens collected at the University since the 1960s. There are nearly 2000 specimens.

If you have people from the Island then this is the place to go to find out more.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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The Future of Handwriting

CBS Sunday Morning had a piece on September 18th called “Is penmanship being written off? “ It was a repeat of a piece that was first broadcast 23 January 2011 called “A Farewell to Handwriting?

It examines the history of handwriting and looks at graphology which I wrote about in a previous post.

Today’s technology could mean that future generations are probably not going to have the ephemera of past generations. How many of us actually print off emails and other correspondence? Even if it is printed off how long can it last before it starts to fade? Will future generations have the excitement of finding a letter written by an ancestor 200 years before they were born?

The written word has changed so much since the introduction of the printing press. Is there going to be a time when we won’t even need to know how to write with pen and paper?

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Ruth’s Recommendations

Here are my favourite blog posts from this past week.

Dick Eastman wrote a post called “Copyright Myths” and while he refers to the copyright laws in the United States they are similar here in Canada.

Stardust’n’Roots had two posts of interest this week. The first one is called “Organizing My Research Using Mediawiki” and it looks at the trials and tribulations we all go through looking for an organization method that works for us. He found one in a research wiki.

The other post was called “On Not Listening to the Genealogy Gods.” He looks at four items that are regularly used in genealogy research but he has fit them to suit his own needs.

Greta’s Genealogy Blog had a post called “A Proper Place for Sentiment” where she looks at how she dealt with a natural disaster in her basement. We all need to think about the results of flood, fire, or other disaster on our personal items. What she went through makes you think about what you would do in the same situation.

The Family Cherished Blog had a post entitled “The Easiest Way to Write Family History Stories Revealed!” where she looks at her involvement in the UGA Family History Conference’s family history writing class. She shares seven tips she learned to help with the process of writing your family history.

The Irish Story Blog had a post about “The Fenian Invasion of Canada, 1866” that was written by Ian Kenneally. It looks at the plan, invasion and aftermath of the Fenian Raids.

Claire Santry of the Irish Genealogy News Blog has a post which tells us that “The GRO digitization project is still four years from completion.”

Shauna Hicks of Shauna Hicks History Enterprises Blog has a post called “Old Research, New Resources, Fresh Eyes” where she looks at how things have changed since she started to research her family history in 1977. She examines how online resources and revisiting old research has helped her to solve some family history problems that were caused by making assumptions. This is something we have all done and it reminds us to revisit our research and look at it from a different perspective.

Are there any postings in the last week that you think need to be on this list? Let me know in the comments below.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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“My Dear Cousin” – RTÉ Radio 1 Documentary One

My Dear Cousin” is a look into the correspondence between a cousin in Dublin and one in America that spans over fifty years. Marie never kept the letters May sent from America. When Marie died the family of cousin May sent the letters to Marie’s family in Dublin. May had died several years earlier.

The letters start in 1917 and end in 1970. It is a wonderful journal of the life of her family and a look at the how the country was changing. Each letter that is read is accompanied by a musical interlude and memories of Marie’s family are interspersed in the documentary.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Ruth’s Recommendations

Here are my favourite blog posts from the week of September 5th.

I was at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Springfield Illinois last week and I got to meet some bloggers. Randy Seaver kindly agreed to let me interview him and he mentioned it in his post called “Day 3 (Friday) at the FGS Conference).”

Randy did another post that listed all the bloggers who were writing about the FGS conference called “Best of the Genea-Blogs – FGS Edition.”

Deborah Large Fox had a post entitled “Be the String” where she talks about the story a Rabbi told at the funeral of her father-in-law and how it relates to family history. Welcome to Canada Deborah.

The Ancestry Insider had an interesting post entitled “The Insider Uncovers Secret Program.” They look at how is helping genealogy societies to digitize and index their material with the Content Publisher. This deserves a closer look.

Are there any postings in the last week that you think need to be on this list? Let me know in the comments below.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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The Treasures to be Found in Historical Audio and Video Collections?

My online search for information regarding the 1924 Imperial Scout Jamboree for a previous post led me to search for other online sources that relate to audio and video resources. A few have been mentioned in other blogs.

They are a treasure trove of information and provide some wonderful entertainment at the same time. Here are collections found in Canada, Scotland, England, Ireland, United States, Australia and Europe.


Library and Archives Canada has Virtual Gramophone which contains historical Canadian sound recordings. There are biographies attached to some of the performers. You can listen to a full range of recordings in the podcast section.

There is a section on historical sheet music and songs relating to the First World War.

On the National Film Board of Canada website you can watch some of the productions that came out of this wonderful Canadian institution. There is a documentary entitled “Action: The October Crisis of 1970” which covers the events of the October Crisis.

One of my personal favourites is “Paddle to the Sea” that was produced in 1966 by Bill Mason.

They have channels for history, arts, kids’ movies, the Green channel, biography, hot topics, outside the box, world, aboriginal peoples, classics and HD.

I had a client who found a film where his mother was interviewed and he bought a DVD copy of the production.


Scotland has the Scottish Screen Archive. Not all the titles have a clip or full length video. You can browse the collection by featured videos, all full length videos, place, subject, genre, series, biography or decade. You can view a full clip relating to making bagpipes dated from 1967.

Not everything in the collection is strictly Scottish. You can find a full length video from 1959 entitled “Australia Week” which is an advert for Australian foodstuffs. They do mix in the foodstuffs of Scotland in the advertisement.


British Pathe has a video archive of their newsreels online. You can search the Editorial Picks or check Categories to find clips. Under Entertainment and Humour you can find “A Chicago Blizzard” a 1938 newsreel of the city of Chicago after what they call a severe snow. This one has audio.

Under Historical Figures and Celebrities you find a clip called “Ireland-Through the Ages” which is a newsreel of a historical pageant that was presented in Dublin in 1927 at the conclusion of Civic week. Near the end the Carlow Sugar truck had the old fashion cone of sugar on the back. Wouldn’t it be nice to know who the ladies at the end of the newsreel were and what happened to them?

The English Folk Dance and Song Society provide no audio but do list many old songs and give a little history.


The National Archive of Irish Composers website is difficult to see because of the black background but it does provide some history and other resources. You can access their digital library to view digital images of sheet music.

Thomas Hamley (Hamly) Butler (c1755-1823) wrote “Erin Go Bragh A favorite Irish Air” and you can view a digital image of the sheet music.

There was a performance of the “Musical Treasures from the National Library” on 26 November 2010 and you can view that and specific performances from the evening. You can read a short biography and watch a video of the composition being performed. The compositions range from the last few years of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century.

United States

National Jukebox is a website created by the Library of Congress in the United States. You can search their holdings by classical music, ethnic characterizations, popular music, religious and spoken word.

Sometimes the recordings are difficult to hear because of the static on the old recordings.

They have a disclaimer that states “WARNING: These historical recordings may contain offensive or inappropriate language.”

Under Ethnic characterizations is a recording of “The little Irish girl” performed by James McCool in 1906.

Under Popular music is the tune “Cat Duet” performed by Ada Jones and Billy Murray in 1908.


The Sounds of Australia is a database of “Australia’s audiovisual heritage online.”

The earliest recording is 1896 and is a novelty song called “The Hen Convention” that features chicken impersonations. You will find a link to the sheet music and a link to the audio.

You can find historical newsreels from various places in Australia including footage of the Australian Flying Corps training and at war in 1918 in France and the Middle East. If you had family who flew with the Australian Flying Corps then you should view these images. The curator’s notes on these pages are wonderful.

There are a variety of newsreels available to view. You can view documentaries, short films, television programs and other historical images and sound recordings relevant to Australia.


European Film Gateway is a film archive for Europe. It is still small but is growing. You can view clips of films most of which are foreign language but have English subtitles.

Have fun viewing and listening to these wonderful archives. Let me know if you find something interesting.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Ruth’s Recommendations

Here are my favourite blog posts from this past week.

The FamilySearch Tech Tips Blog had a post entitled “Understanding Maps.” This is a very useful post that looks at map terminology and using maps as finding aids. Every genealogist knows the how important understanding maps are to their research.

Greta’s Genealogy Blog had a post called “Things I Don’t Care About in Genealogy.” Greta lists ten things that she does not care about in genealogy such as family crests and having an Indian princess in her family tree.

The Enniskerry Local History Blog has a mystery to solve. They describe that mystery in their post called “Mystery Stone at Powerscourt.”

The FGS Conference News Blog had a posting entitled “My conference challenges to you” where they list nine challenges for everyone attending the conference. Some people attend a conference by just going to lectures. FGS are challenging you to meet new people and find new inspiration in a number of places.

Tech Tips had another post called “Restoring the Details on Damaged Photographs.” This is the final entry in a five part series on restoring photographs digitally.

Amy Coffin of The We Tree Genealogy Blog has a post entitled “If Genealogist Were In the Tabloids.” This is an entertaining look at what tabloids would talk about if genealogists were considered celebrities.

Are there any postings in the last week that you think need to be on this list? Let me know in the comments below.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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