Twelve Months of Genealogy

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

Twelve Months of Genealogy – February

Love is associated with the month of February because of Valentine’s Day. In some parts of Canada we also have a civic holiday on the third Monday of the month called Family Day. This is only a day off in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan. In Manitoba this day is known as Louis Riel Day. Federal entities like the post office are open as well as stores. It is one of those days where some people are off work and some are not. It is a day you are supposed to spend doing various activities with your family. This month we are going to link these two holidays to our family history.

The first week of February go thorough your family tree and make note of all the marriage dates that are blank. Create lists of records and places to find the marriage information. If you have already done some research on a particular marriage then create a list of records and places already researched and add some new ones to investigate.

The second week of February pick one or more couples in your family tree and research what their marriage may have been like. What clothes would they have worn? What type of meal was served or was a meal served? Were there many guests? What was the area where they married like at the time? Were pictures taken on the wedding day, before or after? Was there a honeymoon? How about a dowry? Who were the witnesses and how were they connected to the couple? Did a marriage settlement exist between the couple?

Once you start answering these questions you can write up a description for the marriage. You will then have a story ready to put into your family book.

The third week of February we will focus more on family. Go through your family group sheets and make sure the information is complete and sourced. If it is not complete then find the missing information and add it to the group sheet. If there are questions about children or spouses on the family group sheet then create a research plan in order to investigate the answers to those questions.

The fourth week of February we will look at pedigree charts for the family. Are they all filled in with the information that has been researched to date? If not then complete them and if the information is not known then create a research plan to fill in those blanks. Have you hit a brick wall in a direct line? Write up your research on the family to date to see where the holes are. Then find out what other records can be examined to chisel at the brick wall.

You have made all those additions to your family tree so remember to back up your data.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

Twelve Months of Genealogy – January

This year I have decided to provide a monthly list of items you can do with regards to your genealogy. Each month will be a different theme and suggestions will be made to help with varying aspects of your genealogy.

January is usually the month for organization. How many of us have been meaning to go through all our files, computer and paper, not to mention the piles of paper, photographs, and get them all organized.

Let’s take one item a week and see what we can accomplish.

The first week of January we organize all our computer files and back them up. We label them so that we know at a glance want they contain. When they are backed up it is not just to one place or device. How about using a stick, an external hard drive and/or a cloud to back up your information?

The second week of January we organize our paper. It could mean putting them in file folders, scanning them and adding them to our labeled folders on the computer and if we find something of interest then making a note for future research.

The third week of January we organize our photographs. You can scan, label and file them on your computer. If we have pictures we want to store then archival albums and supplies will be needed to make sure they are kept safe. Remember to store the albums in a safe dry place.

The fourth week of January is organizing all the notes we took while on research trips and adding them to our computer programs. At the same time we can create the research plans for this year. During the first three weeks you probably came up with other places and people you wanted to find out more about while you were organizing your data.

Since this is the last week of the month we need to back up our computer again, especially after all that hard work organizing everything.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research