November 2010

The Irish Virtual Research Library and Archives

University College Dublin has created the Irish Virtual Research Library and Archives or IVRLA for short. It is a digital library for the Humanities and Social Sciences. The website says that IVRLA “draws on the extensive resources of archival and rare material held in University College Dublin, and allows researchers to access this material in a digitized format…” They have divided the information into collections that can be browsed or searched and research projects.

You need the program Djvu to view the images in IVRLA.

Under the tab called Collections it is noted that there are restrictions on three Questionnaires relating to the Irish Famine, Emigration to America and Tinkers (Travellers). You need to be a member of UCD to access these pages but all is not lost. You can download an application from the National Folklore Collection research page and then contact the National Folklore Collection directly to apply for access.

Under Collections there are twenty five different collections to research. The Papers of Michael Collins (1890-1922) covers his life in London and his relationships with family and friends in Ireland and includes references to the Gaelic League and Gaelic Athletic Association. There are sixty eight items in the collection and they provide a small biography of Michael Collins in the Collection Description.

Another collection that makes for interesting reading is the 19th Century Pamphlet Collection. There are fifty items in the collection and they cover a broad range of subjects.

A pamphlet entitled “The History of Ireland from the Beginning of the World to the Present Time./ By H.E.” was published in 1879 and is supposed to be a satirical look at the history of Ireland. According to the title page of the book H.E. also authored “A Short History of the Dublin Aristocracy.” The first line of the pamphlet is “4004, B.C. At this distance of time it is difficult to decide whether Adam and Eve visited Ireland or not, and it is unnecessary to say that the evidence brought to bear on the subject is of the most shadowy nature.” That line alone makes you want to read further.

The other section to browse is Research Projects and the first item that draws my attention is “Joyce’s Dublin”. I have studied Joyce’s life and writings so this section is of particular interest. This research project is related to the short story “The Dead”. They are providing a greater understanding of the story itself and the time and place of the story’s setting.

While reading the description of the collection, and finding out the researchers involved in the project, it is mentioned that a podcast series was completed. It was broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ Choice digital radio.

The “Joyce’s Dublin” collection consists of “maps, city guides, photographs and other visual images, relevant historical, political, religious, and economic texts, musical recordings, and interviews from the Urban Folklore Project.” Imagine my disappointment when I tried to view the collection and got an internal error message and a link to return to home page. The problem has been reported so hopefully the collection will be able to be viewed soon.

There is a social history section which has a research project on the Irish Famine. This continues the work that was started under the National Famine Commemoration Project which was set up to mark the 150th anniversary of the Great Irish Famine. The page lists the researchers involved in the project, the projects objectives, acknowledgments and the scope of the project. These are workhouse records for four areas in Ireland.

When you click on the link to view the collection you start on the Collection Description page. The next tab is the Collection Structure and you click on the file of interest. I chose to look at the Rathdrum Union Workhouse and this brought me to a descriptions page. Click on the Contents tab and here you can download an Excel database. There are no names on the database.

Another interesting Research Project is “Georgian Dublin: Architecture and the Built Environment”. Dublin is famous for its Georgian Architecture.

Of particular interest to genealogists is a Historic Maps Collection. There are eleven maps of varying topics available to view. “Fraser’s Map of Dublin and Suburbs: with Street References” was particularly interesting to me. The publication is dated 1860 and the maps are dated 1859. You can zoom in to read the street names.

There is an ejournal available which you can download in PDF format or an abstract.

This website is full of wonderful information and history.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

The 1926 Irish Census – A look back in history

While searching TARA (Trinity’s Access to Research Archive) I came across a very interesting paper.

Under the History – Census topic is a paper written by Sir William J Thompson, Registrar General, entitled “The first census of the Irish Free State and its importance to the country” the issue date is 1927. This paper was read before the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland. He discusses the 1911 census and the upcoming 1926 census. The paper was read to the Society three weeks before the 1926 Irish census was taken.

He refers to the history of census taking going back to the Old Testament. He discusses the 1672 Irish census the “Down Survey” that was undertaken by Sir William Petty the founder of the Lansdowne family. Then Sir William discusses several other census takings in Ireland before the first census of the whole country which was taken in 1821. He then goes through the subsequent census takings and their statistics.

Sir William comments that in the 1861 census the question of religious denomination was asked for the first time and that neither England nor Scotland has ever asked this question.

When it came to the questions to be asked in the 1926 Irish census politicians, scholars and others were asked their opinions. The Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland was also asked to help with the process. The importance of this census was very great as it was the first census of the Irish Free State.

We find out that two questions from the 1911 census were eliminated from the 1926 census and they were “education and disability deaf, dumb and blind.” Sir William said that the question of education in the 1911 census was asked as whether a person could “write or read or read only or cannot read.” It was felt that the younger children went to school and it was mostly the older members of the family who answered in the negative. Since this population was declining it was decided that the question should not be asked in this census.

In 1926 there are new questions with regards to “widows and orphans” and “family wages” they also took great care with regards to the question of speaking Irish by giving it “much greater prominence.” Two columns have been left open for the question of rank, profession and occupation. They were hoping that those completing the census would fill it out in more detail. At the bottom of the form is a question about the amount of acreage a family holds.

Census night was Sunday 18 April 1926. To ensure that people understood the importance of the census a publicity campaign was started involving those of the professional trades, doctors, lawyers, magistrates, clergy and employers among others.

The schools were brought into the campaign by creating a series of lessons to promote the census the week before April 18th. The hope was that the children would become interested and bring the topic into the home in the form of discussion. This would help to educate their parents on the importance of the census. The press was notified to get the word out to the population.

The statistical work of the census was previously done by clerical labour. This is the first time they will be using machinery to help analyze the data. It appears that it was used in England and Scotland in 1911 and 1921 and had been used in the United States for several years.

Sir William comments on the huge upheavals that have occurred in Ireland since the last census was taken fifteen years ago. The result is a feeling of urgency for the completion of the 1926 census.

He also mentions how the United States has paid greater attention to the census process than any other country. Sir William quoted an unnamed American professor as saying: “the taking of the census is the most important and extensive of all State economic and political activities.”

Sir William Thompson ended his presentation with “In particular, I venture to ask each person here to-night to become a propagandist for the taking of the Census, which is of such vital importance to the country.”

While searching the TARA website this particular article caught my attention and imagination. I can almost see Sir William standing before the Society presenting his paper on the 1926 Irish census.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

Horace Gibson Leitch Campbell – Lest We Forget

Horace Gibson Leitch Campbell was my Great Grand Uncle. I have written about him before in a previous post. Horace and a few of his brothers immigrated to British Columbia in 1909. Horace and Frank went to Campbell River and worked with the power company while Harold worked in Vancouver.

Horace joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 9 November 1914 and he was part of the Active Militia at the time. He was 27 years 275 days old and his occupation was listed as surveyor.

He was part of the C.E.F., 29th Vancouver Battalion, Second Canadian Contingent, 6th Brigade, Canadian Infantry, British Columbia Regiment. This regiment did a lot of fighting in and around the French and Flemish border.

On 23 Jan 1915 he was promoted to Lance Corporal. On the 20th of May 1915 he embarked for England. He started his trench warfare training on the 25th of February 1916 and finished on the 3rd of March 1916. The Trench Warfare School took place “in the field.”

Horace received the rank of Corporal on the 15th of March 1916 and on May 27th was granted eight days leave. During his leave he went back to visit his family in Glasgow and help his niece, Norah, celebrate her eighth birthday. He left on June 4th to return to the front.

On the 8th of June 1916 Horace Gibson Leitch Campbell was killed in action. His military file does not say where he was killed. A little research has shown that he was probably killed at the Battle of Mount Sorrel in Belgium. This battle was fought from June 2-13, 1916.

Horace was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His military file consists of five pages.

Horace was the subject of many photographs during his leave. There is one photo of Horace and his brother Edwin.

Janet Waddell Ross Campbell was sent a photograph of Horace’s final resting place in Belgium at the Reninghelst New Military Cemetery.

On Armistice Day everyone went to church. There is a photograph of a floral cross. On the back of this photograph is written “Armistice Day 11th Nov Camphill Church (Glasgow) Memorial – Horace’s wooden cross, forms the foundation of the floral one” You can see that the table the cross is standing on is draped with the Union Jack.

The Campbell’s were quite prolific poets. At Christmas in 1915 while on the battlefield in Belgium Horace wrote a letter home which, as was his practice, included a poem. This poem was read during the Armistice Day service and was printed on Horace’s memorial card.

Oh, lead us not home with the flourish of trumpets
With flags and plumes waving and cheers in the air;
Oh, call us not heroes nor crown us with laurels,
But remember the cost — see the tears everywhere.

Give a thought to the men that lie dead over yonder,
With “Unknown” on a rude cross of wood where they lie.
See that woman in black — whose loved ones sleep with them
As sadly she watches their comrades go by.

But think kindly of others and quietly welcome
Your loved ones, your brothers, your husbands, your sons;
And think of the morrow of tears, and the sorrow
Of thousands who have lost their only dear ones.

Six months after he wrote the letter Horace would be gone.

Lest We Forget

©2010 – Blair Archival Research