Sunday, May 11, 2014

To All the Mothers on My Direct Line

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the women in my direct line that brought forth and nurtured their children.Without them I wouldn't be here today.

Jill Frances McMullen, Winifred Violet Warrener, Frances Mary Howe, Elizabeth Murdoch, Henrietta Jane Whitfield McGregor, Annie Elizabeth Starr Chipman, Margaret Stewart, Isabella McCulloch, Mary Ann Kay, Henrietta Jane Whitefield, Eliza Ann Wells, Catherine McKinnon, Maria Elizabeth Jenkins, Sarah Eliza Starr, Margaret Orr, Janet Campbell, Mary Smith, Isabella Birnie, Ann Rudsdale, Ann Pape, Susan Fair, Florence Bardge, Ann Fraser, Mary Foley, Jane Innes, Ann McDonald, Sarah E Pickel, Maria Waring Little, Sophia Araminta Cogswell, Thamar Troop, Mary McEwan, Margaret Houston, Margaret Pettigrew, Eleanor Maynard, Jane Philips, Sarah Howell, Hannah Baxter, Elizabeth Sherwood, Mary Ann Fowler, Mary McGown Dickie, Elizabeth Beckwith, Esther Fairweather, Jemima Sawtelle, Lydia Parker, Ann Osborne, Lydia Huntington, Katherine Chipman, Jean Allen, Elizabeth Handley, Margaret Homes, Hope Howland, Elizabeth Young and Elizabeth Tilley.
There are so many more yet I don't know their names but I will keep striving to find them.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Library and Archives Canada RG 8, C Series How-To

Library and Archives Canada has a great collection of pre-confederation military files available on their site in what they call the RG 8, C Series files. From their page on British Colonial Era that collection is described as:
"This series covers the period from the American Revolution to the mid-1800s. It includes a wide range of documents relating to the British Army in Canada, Loyalist regiments, the War of 1812, the Canadian militia, etc. A nominal/subject card index and the actual records are available on microfilm. References located in the index provide a brief description of the document, date, C Series volume number and a page number. After consulting the index, refer to the list of microfilm reel numbers for the actual records."
On the third floor at the Library and Archives Canada building at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa there is a set of wooden card catalogue boxes containing the index cards for the RG 8, C Series microfilms. These cards have also been digitized and placed online under "British Military and Naval Records (RG 8, C Series) - INDEX ONLY". I will be the first to admit that I find the online index to be time consuming to use and not as easy as flipping through the paper cards. But they are accessible to everyone without having to physically visit LAC.

However, before you start using this collection I would strongly recommend that you read the Help Page that Library and Archives Canada provides on searching this collection. The key index on that page is the breakdown of what names and regiments are on which microfilms that hold the index cards.

Here is a sample of one of those digitized index cards:

On the card is the person's name, a description of what the microfilmed document contains, a "C" number and a page number or two. In this case, the card points to volume 169 pages 139 and 143.

On problem is that the "C" number on the index card doesn't refer to the microfilm "C" collection. (Confused? So was I for a long time.) So the challenge is going from the "C" volume number on the index card to finding the document on the correct the "C" microfilm. To do that you need to go to the "RG 8, C Series: Microfilm Reel Numbers for Records (arranged by volume number)" page [NOTE: Due to a bad link on the LAC web site you can find this page archived by the Wayback machine at]. In this case, after looking through the page, I see that volume 169 is on microfilm C-2774.

Now you need to get to "British Military and Naval Records (RG 8, C Series) - DOCUMENTS" page so you can view the right microfilm. Finally you jump around the C-2774 digitized images of the microfilm until you find volume 169 and pages 139 and 143 in that volume. Fortunately at the bottom of the microfilmed images you will normally find the volume number. Most of the microfilms have multiple volumes records on them so it may take a bit of work to get to the right part of the microfilm. Additionally, the page number is often written in the top corner of the page.

Here is the image from the digitized microfilms that the index card referenced:

The best part about the digitized images is that they are normally of superior quality to the microfilms found on the open access stacks at Library and Archives Canada. In total it took me about 5 minutes of work to locate the microfilm, volume and specific page. Since I live so close to the Library and Archives Canada building in Ottawa I still find it easier to use the physical card catalogue when browsing and then I go online to view the document. But for those that don't live in Ottawa, this collection is a wonderful source if you have an ancestor that served in Canada prior to Confederation.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Why can't I find the records listing my ... ?

Sorry for the almost two month long absence from posting here. I had to step away from genealogy research since I was getting a little frustrated and tired doing my research. So ... back to the blog.

One of the common questions I see from beginners is, "Why can't I find the records listing my ... ?"

It is a reasonable question with an answer that many new researchers don't like to hear, that most of the information of genealogical concern is still not online. The well-known sites like FamilySearch, Ancestry, MyHeritage, etc. are trying to make a dent but even with their efforts in digitizing the records that they can negotiate to gain access to (some places just say no) there will still be the challenge and time delay of indexing the images.

So where do you start then if you can't find the record you want?

Step 1: Always look for the answers at home first. If possible, ask for copies of birth and marriage certificates. Don't forget about those newspaper clippings (birth announcement, weddings, obituaries) that are held that often talk about family members. Call up or write to (e-mail or otherwise) the other living family members and ask them questions about what they might have in their possession or even recall (take dates from their memories with a large grain of salt).

Step 2: Find out what libraries and archives exist in the areas that the people you are looking for resided in. Contact those places to find out if they have any details on the family lines. Some of the archives and libraries have placed name indexes on-line that can aid in your searches.

Step 3: Reach out to other researchers for help. Attend genealogy and historical society meetings to learn more about the time period and additional research techniques and resources. If you are a Facebook user, take a look at the "Genealogy Links on Facebook" PDF pulled together by Katherine R. Willson for a list of Genealogy related groups. Before asking a question in those groups you may want to read my two part post on "When Asking for Help ... Part 1 and Part 2"

Step 4: Look in those other resources other than birth, marriage, death and census records. Have you looked into wills & probates, military service records, immigration and passenger lists, and newspaper articles? Many of those documents aren't readily available on-line and you may need to ask or hire someone to get copies of the files for you.

Finally, don't give up in your searching. Documents and resources are appearing all the time.