July 1, 2015

Happy Birthday Canada!

Canada Day is a celebration for everyone even though some are working today and taking the holiday on another day. It's still a celebration – whether you’re enjoying fireworks, outdoor concerts or fun with friends and family.  

What are you doing on Canada Day? I'm spending time with my son and his family before they move to Colorado. We'll barbeque and laze around the pool for the day. 

For Canada Day events from the Government of Canada, see
Celebrating Canada Day from coast to coast to coast on July 1, 2015! Come back soon for more information and follow on Twitter at #CanadaDay.

June 30, 2015

It's Not Just Loyalists! (A Misleading Title on Ancestry)

Recently I poked around a database record set on Ancestry.com. The title is UK, American Loyalist Claims 1776-1835. In the description given by Ancestry we read that "Records in this database relate to Loyalist claims and cases heard by the American Loyalist Claims Commission."

There is more detail given in the description but every sentence stresses that this database provides names and details of Loyalists, those who fled the Colonies during and after the Revolutionary War 1775-1783. However this is incorrect! Badly incorrect.

The records are divided into Series I (AO12) and Series II (AO13). 

Yes there are some Loyalist claims and documents in this set of records. But a very quick look in Series II (AO 13) reveals that in the section titled "American-Loyalist Claims Series II (140) Miscellaneous 1801-1835", we find Claims for Losses in Upper Canada after the War of 1812. 

These claims for losses were not filed by Loyalists but by ordinary citizens who suffered at the hands of the Americans or the Indians during that War. This specific (and valuable!) list of those filing claims is dated May 1824 and begins on image 15 of 228. It ends on image 49 at claimant number 2054.

It's an invaluable database but sadly not many researchers will find it since it is not listed correctly on Ancestry.com. And for those who do stumble on it by searching and finding an ancestor's name, they are almost certain to think that finding that name in this database means that their ancestor was a Loyalist. 

Please don't be fooled. When searching a large database, be sure to scroll back to the start of the specific section your ancestor's name is on. Look for the title of that specific set of records so that you know what you have found and can provide an accurate and correct source for the information.

June 29, 2015

Victorian Lunatic Asylum Patient Photos - So Tragic

Faces of pain: Harrowing portraits from Victorian lunatic asylum were taken by doctor who believed photos could help 'cure' them - even though many were only there because their husbands had tired of them. These Haunting images give an insight into harrowing lives of women forced to live at Suffolk County Lunatic Asylum

June 28, 2015

Celebrate Canada Day with FREE Access to Ancestry.ca!

Celebrate Canada Day with FREE Access to Ancestry.ca!
To celebrate Canada Day [FN1], Ancestry.ca is providing free access to all 235 million Canadian records on their site. The offer is in effect until July 1, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time.

You will need to register (for free) with your name and email. A username and password will be emailed to you which you can use to log in to view the free records. After July 1, 2015, you will only be able to view these records using an Ancestry.ca paid membership. 

[FN1] On July 1, 1867 Canada became a new federation with its own constitution by signing the Constitution Act - formerly known as the British North America Act. Canada Day is a national statutory holiday celebrated in all provinces and territories.

June 27, 2015

Once in a Lifetime Family Reunion

Share the emotional reuniting of four generations (71 people) from one family that scattered across America. As families spread further and further apart, reunions are making a comeback to keep traditions and family histories alive. 
Evie & Clarence Wedding Day 1948
image courtesy of BrilliantBabyProducts.com

This 3rd & 4th of July, in Black Lake, Michigan, after 67 years of marriage, Great-Grandparents Evie & Clarence will gather their entire living family of 71 people from all over America and will finally see their 28 great-grandchildren in one room; meeting many for the first time.  

With family members ranging in age from newborn to 86 this will be a day full of laughs, tears How of joy and memories that will be passed down for generations.

This is all thanks to Barbara Klee of Pemberville, Ohio entering a contest to win a Once in a Lifetime Family Reunion, and winning! TinyBeans, the app that makes sharing memories with family safe and simple for over 700,000 people around the world, is honoring Barbara Klee’s family with a $10,000 reunion of a lifetime!

June 26, 2015

Who Do You Think You Are is Back With New Celebrity Guests

Who Do You Think You Are is Back With New Celebrity Guests
 The two-time Emmy nominated series WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? returns this summer to share more fascinating stories, and shed light on surprising revelations, of the real life family history of celebrities. 

Executive Produced by Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky, the new season premieres Sunday, July 26 at 9/8c.
 The contributors featured in the upcoming season include:
·         Tom Bergeron, who is aware of his French Canadian roots on his paternal side, but wants to know what brought his ancestors to North America. He goes as far back as his 10x great grandmother to find the answer.
·         Bryan Cranston, who comes to discover an unfortunate pattern amongst the men in his family.
·         Ginnifer Goodwin, who sets out to learn about her mysterious paternal great grandparents, whom her father, regretfully, does not know much about either.
·         Alfre Woodard, who strives to find out more about the paternal side of her family, and explores how her surname came to be.
Additionally, TLC will air the U.S. premiere of J.K. Rowling’s episode of the series, where the best-selling author sets off to uncover her maternal French roots. She finds that a family war story might not be what she thought when military records reveal a surprising twist.
 Ancestry.com , the leading family history company, is teaming up again with TLC as a sponsor of the upcoming season. As part of the show sponsorship, Ancestry provides exhaustive family history research on each of the featured celebrities to help make discoveries possible and build out the story of each episode.


June 25, 2015

PBS Suspends Finding Your Roots Over Affleck's Improper Influence

 Finding Your Roots is a TV show with host Henry Louis Gates Jr. and has been on air for 2 Seasons. The premise is similar to Who Do You Think You Are? and traces the roots and family histories of celebrity guests.

When an episode featuring Ben Affleck aired last October it was later learned (through hacked emails) that Affleck had told Gates he did not want mention made of his slave owning ancestors. Gates and the show's producer removed all mention. 

When the emails surfaced there was a huge outcry from fans and genealogists alike, most of whom were dismayed at the editorial liberties taken by the show to hush up the past and hide the facts. 

At the time Gates defended the decision to not air Affleck's ancestors' slave owning deeds by saying that the producers found "more interesting" ancestors to talk about.

After an investigation, PBS found that "... producers violated network standards by letting Mr. Affleck have “improper influence” and “by failing to inform PBS or WNET of Mr. Affleck’s efforts to affect program content.”

Before Season 3 airs, PBS plans on making staff changes and has not yet reached a decision as to whether or not there will be a fourth Season. 

Read more in the NY Times at Citing Ben Affleck’s ‘Improper Influence,’ PBS Suspends ‘Finding Your Roots’

June 24, 2015

Why You Can't Find Great-Grandpa's Death Registration

Why You Can't Find Great-Grandpa's Death Registration
How many times have you looked for a Vital Registration in Ontario and come up empty? But you know Great-Grandpa Harvey's death date and location. You know it was after Vital Registration began in 1869. You've tried using wildcards to pick up variations in his surname. You've searched just under his first name. You've tried every trick in the book but there is nothing found. 

I've done it too. I have several people whose deaths or marriages or births are simply not showing up in the online Registrations. My most recent failed attempt was in searching for a murder victim and the woman who was executed for the crime. It was a very famous case in Ontario (James Workman the victim, beaten to death in 1872 and his wife Elizabeth Workman, the last woman hung in Ontario in 1873) and is still written about today as a miscarriage of justice. I wanted to see their death registrations for research I am doing on this family. But nothing was found. After several frustrating hours of creative searching, I wrote to the Ontario Archives and asked where the Death Certification of murder victims and the murderer were kept.

To my surprise I was told that they are filed with all deaths and registered with Ontario Vital Statistics so they should be found. Then the Archivist added that perhaps the families had not paid to have the deaths registered. This was news to me! So I wrote back and asked for clarification as to whether all individuals had to pay to register a vital event. The answer was YES. Here's the explanation below:

People were required to pay (either directly or via family members, hospital, clergy or funeral home) for Ontario vital statistics registrations.  The cost to register a marriage was about .10 cents prior to WWII then the cost went up to about .25 cents after WWII.

Now I know why I can't find some of my ancestors and collateral branches' births, marriages or deaths. No doubt the family didn't have the money or thought it was a waste of money that could be better spent elsewhere.

So if you have been hunting and unable to find a Vital Registration Event, consider the possibility that perhaps it was never registered. That doesn't mean you should give up after the first try! Use wildcards, they are your friend. For example Ancestry allows the use of * to represent more than one letter and ? to represent one letter.  If your surname of interest is Madden, try searching M*d*n to pick up Maden, Maiden, Maddin, etc.

Be creative in how many details you put in the search engine. In other words, loosen your search, make it less restrictive. Search just by a first name or just by a location and date (no name at all) 

If all your searches are in vain, you might want to try church records. Even if the event was not registered at the Provincial level, odds are good that it made the local church.