Twelve Months of Genealogy – December

When December comes around we all turn to planning our holiday celebrations. This month let’s look at the way our ancestors celebrated the holiday season.

The first week of December we will look at religious services. If your family followed a Christian faith then usually the last Sunday in November is the start of Advent. Advent has a Latin origin and means “coming.” The Advent candle and calendar are two symbols of the observance.

You can find out more about the observance of Advent here.

Did your ancestors observe Advent? What family traditions came out of this celebration?

Maybe your family was of the Jewish faith and celebrated Hanukkah. Hanukkah is an eight day celebration of the Festival of Lights. Every night of the festival the family gathers and a new candle is light on the menorah and the children are given small gifts. This year Hanukkah is celebrated from December 20th to the 28th.

You can find out more about the celebration of Hanukkah here.

How did your ancestors celebrate Hanukkah? Were they able to observe the holiday openly and freely? Does your family celebrate Hanukkah the same way your ancestors did?

In week two we will look at the traditions that your family follow today. Do you know where they came from? When they started? Is your family starting new traditions that your great great grandchildren will be following in the future?

Christmas trees, cards, lights and puddings became popular during the Victorian era. The Christmas tree was lit with candles. The fruit and spirit filled Christmas pudding that Mrs. Cratchit was so concerned about in “A Christmas Carol” is not the same pudding that was consumed in medieval times.

Can you trace your holiday traditions through the family to see when they may have started?

The third week of December we will look at the holiday meal. When we think of Christmas dinner we think of turkey. Each country usually has their own version of Christmas dinner and the delicacies that are served. I know that my ancestors in England and Ireland liked to serve goose or ham for dinner. The type of meal served at Christmas for our ancestors would depend on the amount of money they had to spare.

Was there one item that the family would splurge on? Is there something you serve at your Christmas table that has come down the generations? Has the preparation of it changed in any way? Is there one item that must be on your Christmas table or it’s just not Christmas?

The last week of December we will look at the celebration of the New Year. I have Scottish ancestors and Hogmanay was more important than Christmas. On December 31st the New Year would be piped in and Auld Lang Syne would be sung. During the song everyone would cross their arms in front of them and then hold hands with the people next to them.

The big parties and special meals continued into the first of January. The house had to be spotless so cleaning would be done the week prior. Then there was the importance of who stepped over the threshold first. It had to be a dark haired man bearing gifts such as coal and a potato. Some other gifts could be salt, shortbread, whiskey and a black bun.

Did your ancestors have a celebration for the New Year? Was it what we think of now with the hats, streamers and counting down to midnight? Or was it different?

Did your ancestors celebrated the Epiphany? Epiphany usually started on Christmas day and ended around January 6th. The original twelve days of Christmas.

Take some time this holiday season to learn more about the history and traditions of your family’s holiday celebrations.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Twelve Months of Genealogy – November

November is a month of Remembrance in Canada and other places around the world. This is the time when we remember the veterans of all the wars and conflicts that have involved Canadians. The poppy is the symbol of remembrance. This month we will look at places to find information on your veteran ancestors.

In the first week of November we will look at records for Canada. The first stop should be the Genealogy and Family History section of the Library and Archives Canada website. Here you can find information on soldiers of the First and Second World War. The Soldiers of the First World War database has digital copies of attestation papers. You will find a link so you can order a copy of their military file online.

In two previous posts (post 1 and post 2) I have gone through the information to be found under the topic of military in the Library and Archives Canada Genealogy and Family History section. This section used to be called the Canadian Genealogy Centre.

In the second week of November we will examine the military records for England. Here the first stop is The National Archives of England and Documents Online. Documents Online have databases for Army, Navy and Air Force. The First World War Medal Index Cards are a great resource.

You can find the First World War Medal Index Cards on Ancestry as well as digital copies of the surviving military files. At Findmypast you will find Chelsea Pensioner records as well as many other military records.

In the third week of November we will look at military records for the United States. The first stop is usually Ancestry but you will also find information at World Vital Records which covers the conflicts from the Revolutionary War to World War II and at FamilySearch. The National Archives and Record Administration has a section on their website dedicated to Veteran’s Service Records.

The fourth week of November we will look at the military records from Australia. The ANZACS (Australian and New Zealand Army Corp) hold a very special place in the hearts of the people of Australia and New Zealand.

The Australian War Memorial has descriptions of all the conflicts Australians have been involved in from 1788 through to the present day. They have a wonderful site that you should visit and take time to go through all the different links and pages.

There is a general database you can search to find information on veterans from many different conflicts.

The National Archives of Australia hold the military personnel records. They have a page dedicated to the First World War and if you scroll down you can access a link to a search page. You can search their records to see if a reference can be found for your ancestor and you can usually access a digital copy of their military file.

You will find a link to Mapping our Anzacs which is a virtual scrapbook to remember those who fought for King and country in the First World War. There is a link here to access the military files and they encourage people to create scrapbook pages to remember their loved ones.

The last week of November we will look at some general places to find information. If you have a regiment name then the first place to start is a Google search. In England you may find a regimental museum which may be able to help you with more information.

Research the battles in which your ancestor fought and find out what the soldiers went through. I know that one of my collateral lines fought in the Battle of Waterloo and that his first child was born just behind the field of battle. Women were sometimes allowed to follow their men during campaigns. They would stay behind at the camp during battles. This usually happened if the soldier was an officer.

You may be able to find sketches or pictures of the uniform your ancestor might have worn. Did they wear a uniform or their regular clothes? This sometimes happened if they were in the militia.

The military file might be the first place to look for information but not the last. What about muster rolls, pension rolls, and other records where you might find someone who was in the military.

Do not forget things like military diaries. Library and Archives Canada have digital copies of the war diaries of the First World War online.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has a searchable database online. You can search for casualties of the First and Second World Wars from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, India and South Africa.

Is your ancestor remembered on a war memorial in their home town? You can search online and see what you can find. Scotland has The Scottish National War Memorial online. You can search the Scottish Roll of Honour for entries from the First and Second World Wars and post 1945.

This Remembrance Day why not write the story of your veteran ancestor so that their sacrifice and their accomplishments will not fade away.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Twelve Months of Genealogy – October

October is the first full month of fall and in Canada Thanksgiving will be celebrated on October 10th. The end of the month is Halloween. Halloween used to be All Hallows Even the night before All Saints Day which was also known as All Souls’ Day. These are days of remembrance for those who have died but are held in purgatory. All Soul’s Day represents them getting to heaven.

In October we are going to investigate cemeteries. The first three weeks will represent a different country (Canada, Ireland and Scotland) and the last week will look at some places to find information that is useful for anyone researching cemeteries.

The first week cemeteries in Canada will be examined. The Canadian Headstone Photo Project is a volunteer service that takes photographs of monuments and puts them online. It is a work in progress and you can help by adding some monument photographs that you may have. They also have projects for Ireland (Fermanagh and Tyrone) and the USA.

In the Province of Ontario there is the Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid. You can search by name, county, township or cemetery. It provides the information of who is buried in what cemetery and then you can contact the family history society or other society that holds the original information. There is a British Columbia Cemetery Finding Aid as well.

The second week will look at the cemetery records for Ireland. Belfast has an online search facility for burial records. Read the description of what records are available. The first cemetery starts in 1869 and the other two in 1954 and 1905.

Brian J Cantwell’s Memorials of the Dead is a well known Irish resource. You can get a description of the resource here and can search the records at the pay per view website Irish Origins.

Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin has put their cemetery records online which date from 1828 to the present day. It is a pay per view website. You can do a standard burial/cremation search for 3 credits; an extended burials by grave search (all others in same grave) for 8 credits and if a book extract is available it is an additional 2 credits. One credit costs 1 Euro.

They let you know if others are buried in the grave with a green check mark next to the entry in the search results. You get digital copies of the actual records.

Another option is Irish Graveyards where you can search “a number of Irish graveyards to locate a specific grave” there is also the option to browse. Not every county or graveyard is represented. This is a work in progress. You get an image of the church if it is a church graveyard and a map which downloads as a PDF file. The graves are numbered and it corresponds with the number in the search results. The results also provide a photograph of the grave. This is a free service.

The local authorities of County Kerry have gotten together and created a website dedicated to the 140 cemeteries under their control. They have scanned 168 books which includes 70,000 indexed burial records.

In week three let’s look at Scotland. In Glasgow there is a website dedicated to the South Necropolis “Gorbals City of the Dead”. Their main purpose is to promote the “historical and educational assets” of the cemetery. It opened in 1840. There is no full searchable database online for the cemetery but there are a small number of interment transcriptions. The website is run by Colin Mackie who was part of the Southern Necropolis Research Project which ended in 1993. You can find microfilms of some of the original records through the FamilySearch library catalogue.

The Mearns Kirkyard Project in Renfrewshire has a searchable database for names. When you get your results it provides a brief synopsis and you have an option to view more information. This can provide a photograph of the monument, a transcription of the inscription, information from the burial records, condition and size of monument and the names and dates of death for others found in the grave. At the bottom of the page you can find a family history which provides more information on the family remembered by the monument. If you have someone from Mearns in Renfrewshire this is a little treasure.

In week four we will look at some suggestions that are useful when researching cemeteries in any of the above countries.

Deceased Online has records for the UK and the Republic of Ireland. This is a work in progress so keep checking back to see if your area of interest has been added. It is a pay per view site but you can do the search for free. The pricing schedule runs from 15 credits to 50 with one option being “individually priced according to size”. Individual credit costs were not found but as of 27 May 2011 they said that when purchasing the minimum 30 credits a search for 15 credits costs 1.50 GBP which is about $2.50 CDN with today’s exchange rate.

FamilySearch is a place to look for cemetery records. The records for Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin can be found through the library catalogue.

Another way to find cemetery records for any country is to contact the local family history/genealogy/historical society to see if they can help. Some have printed books relating to cemetery transcriptions.

If you can not find your ancestor in the cemetery that is closest to their place of residence when they died then take a look at when the cemetery started operation. It may be that it was after the time your ancestor died.

If you come across a ghost when you are out trick or treating this Halloween do not be afraid they could be an ancestor who can help you break down a brick wall.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Twelve Months of Genealogy – September

September is the month when students return to school so let’s look at records for education.

The first week of September we will examine resources that are available to help you with your research in England. The National Archives website has a section on the History of Education. You will find a list of information held at the archives.

On the right hand side of the webpage you will find a list of guides to help you with researching elementary, secondary, special services, teachers and technical and further education. You will find a section with useful links and relevant repositories. At the end of the page is a bibliography of further reading.

The Family History Library Catalogue (FHLC) is another place to look for information. Using the place search and the term England you get ten options for schools but none for education.

Colin R Chapman and Pauline M Litton wrote a book called “Using Education Records” in 1999 that may provide some assistance in researching English education records.

The second week we will look at the education records for Scotland. The National Archives of Scotland has a guide to explain education records and where to find them. They provide further reading suggestions.

The place search for Scotland in the FHLC has three options for schools.

Let’s examine Irish school records in the third week of September. The National Archives of Ireland provide a guide to sources on National Education. These records range from 1832 to 1924.

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland provides a brief outline of the types of records they hold with regards to education. The description suggests it is a very large record source.

Under the “Local History Series” leaflets you can download a PDF called “No. 5 – National School Records” which describes what is available.

The FHLC place search for Ireland has seven options for schools. You can order a microfilm called “Index of teachers qualifying at training college giving subjects in which qualified, 1893-1907 and of teachers competent to teach Irish, 1895-1912.”

When researching Irish school records do not forget about the Hedge Schools, there is a book written by Patrick John Dowling called “The hedge schools of Ireland” that may be able to help. You can find out more about them here.

The last week of September we will look at resources that are available to help you with your search in Canada. In Canada each province and territory is responsible for the education of their citizens.

Library and Archives Canada has a brief description of what is available there and they provide links to provinces and territories for more information.

Marian Press has written a book entitled “Education and Ontario Family History” that examines the records available for teachers and students in the Province of Ontario. The records range from 1785 to the early twentieth century. Marian looks at records available in both traditional and electronic repositories.

The FHLC has three options under Canada relating to schools.

Now that the kids are going back to school take a little time for yourself and research the education records of your ancestors.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Twelve Months of Genealogy – August

This month we are going to research the lives of our female ancestors.

In the first week we are going to look at the different occupations that our female ancestors may have done. I had a 3X Great Grandmother who was a midwife in the mid 1800s in Scotland. The University of Manchester has a website entitled “UK Centre for the History of Nursing and Midwifery.” Here you can find information and recommended reading on the subject.

If your ancestor was a governess you can find a bibliography at The Victorian Web. Did you know that women worked in the mines? You can find out more information on women’s involvement in the Industrial Revolution here.

You could find women working on the farm, the fisheries, textile mills and many other places outside the home.

In week two we will examine how women took care of their families without the basic services we take for granted today. Many women lived out in the middle of nowhere and had no neighbours to run to for assistance. Doctors were few and far between and money was scarce. So what did they do to take care of their family?

Home doctoring was a common practice. Today we might call it homeopathy. Women knew the basic herbs and other natural substances that would help heal their family of minor ailments. If things were more serious all they could do was try to make their patient more comfortable. If a doctor was available sometimes they would take items from the farm as payment, a few chickens, eggs or vegetables.

Home teaching was prevalent during this time as schools were either too far away or non-existent. Women may also be the preacher on Sunday instilling the values and teachings of the Bible to their family.

Women would do the family chores and then help their husbands on the farm if no farm labour was available or they could not afford it. You can find out about life on a Victorian farm in England here.

Let’s look at how single women coped during week three. The only occupations opened to single women of the middle or upper classes were nurse, teacher, nun and governess. These were considered respectable jobs for middle and upper class women. Single women from the lower classes were found working in the field, in domestic service, in the mines, in the factory and anywhere else they could find work to support themselves and their families.

Middle and upper class women were not encouraged to go out and find work. If they were single it was felt they were needed at home to care for aging parents and any siblings that may still be at home. You sometimes find single women moving in with siblings to help when a spouse has died.

Lower class women went out and earned money. It was not their own to do with as they pleased because it was expected that the money would be put into the family coffers. The money these women brought in for their family meant the difference of having a roof over their head or a meal or not being able to provide those simple necessities. Domestic service was preferred for single women of the lower class as they could get board and meals and then send the money home to their family. It meant one less mouth to be fed in the family home.

In the fourth week of August we will examine the roll of women in the First World War. This was a time when women experienced a new freedom that had not been felt before. The men were at war and the women had to make sure the industries kept running and supplies kept going to the front to support the men.

The class system seemed to blur for a while and women were working in all kinds of occupations. There were organized groups such as the Women’s Legion that taught women to drive, be mechanics, cooks and many other things. These women worked on the home front but some of them found themselves at the front driving ambulances and working in field hospitals. You can find our more about women taking the place of men at work here and more about the role of women from 1900-1945 here.

If you are finding it too hot to go outside or you are having a staycation this year why not spend some time finding out more about your female ancestors and how they lived their lives.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Twelve Months of Genealogy – July

July is the month that Canadians and Americans celebrate the birth of their nations. Canada’s birthday is July 1st and the United States is July 4th. Canada will be 144 and the United States will be 235 this year.

There has been a long relationship between the two countries. Many of our ancestors have crossed over the borders in each direction and some of them several times.

The first week we will look at places to find out more about the history of Canada. You can find links to some of the more well known parts of Canadian history at Canada Online.

The name Canada first showed up on a map in 1547 and referred to the land that was located north of the St. Lawrence River. Did you know that other names for Canada could have been Victorialand, Cabotia, Superior and Tuponia which stands for The United Provinces of North America.

The second week let’s look at the history of the United States. You can find a lot of information on Wikipedia. There are many different topics and historic moments discussed on this website.

The National Archives have a website that provides information on the history of the Constitution. You can find out more about their online exhibits here.

During the third week we will look at the history between the two countries. You can find a historical timeline of the history of the two countries here. There is a history about the boundaries of the United States that you can find here.

The last week of July let’s look at how to find information on the border crossings between the two countries. There are no official Canadian records until 1908 when the Canadian government officially started to record immigrants coming into the country. You can find the Border Crossings: From U.S. to Canada, 1908-1935 at Ancestry. Ancestry has the Canadian Border Crossing Collection which dates from 1895 to 1956 and contains information on those crossing from Canada into the United States. You can find the Detroit Border Crossings and Passenger and Crew Lists, 1905-1957 on Ancestry.

Enjoy all the family gatherings, picnics, historic events and fireworks this holiday weekend. If you are in New York or Ontario why not drop by and enjoy the Friendship Festival where both countries share and enjoy their birthdays. If you are in the area of the Peace Bridge on July 3rd there is “Hands Across the Border” so why not join in.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Twelve Months of Genealogy – June

This is the time of year when we start getting produce that is grown locally. So far I have been able to get this year’s rhubarb and asparagus. This is the busy season for farmers everywhere.

This month we will be looking at the lives of our farming ancestors.

We will look at the farm labourer in the first week of June. Where can you find information on this occupation and what were the conditions that your ancestor might have worked under? A Google search will help you find the an article from the “The Agricultural History Review” entitled “Farm Servant vs Agricultural Labourer 1870-1914” by Richard Anthony which you can download. There is “The farm labourer; the history of a modern problem” written in 1913 by Olive Jocelyn Dunlop and “A history of the English agricultural labourer, 1870-1920” by Frederick Ernest Green that was written in 1920. See what else you can find.

In week two let’s look at those who may have been involved with trying to unionize the farm worker. The United Farm Workers Union is a twentieth century union from the United States. You can find information on them here.

In England in 1833 The Agricultural Labourers Union began its struggle into existence in Dorset. The organizers were transported to Australia. They tried again in 1866 with the formation of the Agricultural Labourers Protection Association in Kent. Soon labourers in other counties began similar organizations. They united in May 1872 to form the National Union of Agricultural Workers.

Did your ag lab ancestors belong to similar organizations?

What were the tools that your ancestors used on the farm? In week three we are going to try and find out more about the tools they used. A useful website called “Antique Farm Tools” has pictures of old farm tools that may provide you with an idea of what your ancestors used on a daily basis.

What did life on the farm look like? In week four we will look at the images of our agricultural labourer ancestors. The University of Reading is home to the Museum of English Rural Life. They have an online image database as well as Countryside Images Flickr Group and Farmers Weekly Gallery where you can view and share your pictures. These are modern images.

There are two online exhibitions called Farmer and Stockbreeder collection and Farmers Weekly collection. The online exhibits have photographs from the mid twentieth century. They provide a look into farming practices and not all of it has to do with machinery.

The National Archives of England have a podcast called “Sources for tracing agricultural labourers” that can help you with your research.

A useful resource book is “My Ancestor was an Agricultural Labourer” by I. Weller.

The more you know about what your ancestors did for a living and what their daily life was like the more you will learn about your ancestor.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

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Twelve Months of Genealogy – May

In Canada Victoria Day is celebrated on the 23 May this year. It is a long weekend and the unofficial start to summer. It is the time of year when vacations are planned and visits to family can be part of those plans.

This summer holiday season why not take the time to visit a local historical society and do some research on the history of the area where your ancestors lived. Researching the local history of the region can add substance to your family story.

If you are unable to visit these places then see if you can find them online and if not then find an address to write them a letter.

The one thing to remember about historical societies is that they are not usually open on the weekend or holidays. Some may be open only a couple days a week. The Oakville Historical Society is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 – 4:30 pm.

If the historical society is not open then go and visit the local library. Their hours are a little bit more regular but some libraries shorten their hours during the summer months.

The first week of May make a list of the places where your ancestors have lived or came from originally. See if there are any places that are close together and can be visited during a few days break at some point in the summer.

You may not be able to take a full two weeks holiday at once but can manage a few days off at a time. Why not avoid the traffic on the weekend and go mid week instead. You can sometimes get some great deals on accommodations during mid week.

Now that you have the list let’s find out what historical societies and libraries are in the areas of interest to you. The second week will be spent on Google and possibly on the phone finding out what is available in the towns where your ancestors lived.

Maybe your ancestors did not live near a town. Then look for a historical society that might cover a township. In the Oakville area we also have the Trafalgar Township Historical Society which covers the whole area not just a specific town.

If neither of those options exists then you might find a county museum or archives. In Halton we have the Halton Region Museum where you can go and do some research.

If you can not locate something in your specific area then go further afield. A town may be found in one region but you might find more information in the neighbouring region. This is especially true if the area borders another town, township or county.

The third week of May is time to organize. Make a list of the hours and contact information for each historical society, library and museum that you want to visit.

Do they have online catalogues? If so then search them before you leave so you have a better idea of what is available. If they do not have online catalogues then give them a call to see if they can help you. If they can not help you it is better to know before you go. They may also be able to point you in another direction to find more information.

If the area is small they might put you in touch with a local historian or a person in their organization who is very familiar with the area. If so then you can arrange an appointment to meet with them when you are there.

When you visit the historical societies, libraries and museums it is always welcomed if you leave a donation after your visit. These organizations usually survive by donations and membership fees. Libraries are working under ever dwindling budgets so do not forget them. Most of the information you will receive is free so a donation to show your appreciation is a good thing.

The fourth week of May it is time to plan your summer sojourns. Get maps printed for the areas you want to visit. Go online and find accommodations and restaurants in the area. See if there are other activities, exhibitions, or attractions that you can visit while you are there.

The important thing is to remember to have fun. It is your vacation after all.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

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Twelve Months of Genealogy – April

Easter is the big celebration in April this year so let’s see what family information we can gather around this celebration. April 25th is ANZAC Day a day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand.

In the first week of April we will start with the religious denominations of your family. In my family there are Presbyterian, Church of Ireland, Church of England, Church of Scotland, Free Church of Scotland, Roman Catholic, Quaker and Huguenot (French Protestant).

What were the religious denominations in your family? Do you know the history of that religion? What sacraments, celebrations, customs, hymns, ideologies, and other things are part of that religion? What was an average religious service like? What records are available for that religion that can help you with your family history?

The second week of April find out what church records may have been missed or ignored during research. When you research church records is it strictly parish registers? Have you ever looked at the church minutes, vestry records or Kirk session records? Have you read old issues of the church bulletin, magazine, newsletter or other church publication? Do you know the history of the church your family attended?

These records can hold a wealth of information on your family. Especially if they were active in the operations of the church, provided the church with funding or went against church rules.

You may find people of other denominations baptizing their children, getting married or buried in a church of another religious denomination. It would depend on what church was local to them and how difficult it would be to get to the church of their faith.

The third week of April is Easter. How did your family celebrate this holiday? What were the religious activities like during this time? Did you get new clothes? What were they like? Was there an Easter egg hunt or other tradition that involved the children?

What was your Easter meal like? Was there something special served that signified Easter? When did you have the big celebration in the family Good Friday, Easter Sunday or Easter Monday? Was it the immediate family or did you have a large extended family gathering?

April 25th is ANZAC (Australia & New Zealand Army Corps) Day in Australia and New Zealand. It commemorates the landing in Gallipoli in 1915. Do you have ancestors from Australia and New Zealand? Did they serve with the ANZACS? Why not spend the day seeing what you can find with regards to the members of your family who may have served their country as a member of the ANZAC. You can find out more about what is available at Coraweb.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

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Twelve Months of Genealogy – March

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

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