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

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

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

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

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

1 2 3