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Newspaper are worth the time

Posted by Elisabeth Doucett on February 16th, 2018

I have never done much newspaper research for my family genealogy.  I always assumed that since most of my relatives were farmers, they wouldn’t have done much that would have landed them in a local newspaper story.

However, I have learned during my genealogy research that newspapers served a somewhat different function 100 years ago than they do today.  The local newspaper often was the repository of the stories about the local community – marriages, deaths, special events, interesting tidbits of local life.

I purchased a six month membership on ancestry.com so I could do research at home.  Part of the membership was access to newspapers.com so I decided to try newspaper research again, hoping for better luck and knowing that stories about farmers did indeed often end up in the local newspaper.

I jumped in by researching my father’s family and, as usual, had no luck.  However, I put in the name of another g-g-grandfather even thought it was just a shot in the dark since I had never found much about him.  Surprise!  Up came an article about a medal that he had received fighting in the Napoleanic Wars under the Duke of Wellington (my ancestor was born in England).  My relative was then sent to Canada as part of the British Army to fight the Americans in the War of 1812 and ended up staying in Canada.

I finally understand why newspapers are great resources for genealogists.  They can often provide information you didn’t have about your ancestors but, more than that, they help you understand your ancestors’ lives in a very real way.  I was thrilled and resolved to do more newspaper research.

If you don’t have access to newspapers.com, don’t despair.  There are many free historic newspaper resources available.  If you are researching in the US the Library of Congress has a wonderful service called Chronicling America (https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov) which is a database of historic newspapers from 1789-1963 that can be searched.    Additionally, if you search for the phrase “free historic newspapers” many other options will pop up.  Good luck and happy research!

Genealogy News at Curtis Memorial Library

Posted by Elisabeth Doucett on February 9th, 2018

We have had so much success with the Friday morning Help-with-Genealogy time at Curtis Library (9:30-noon with Lynne Holland) that we have decided to add another session on Mondays.  From 2 – 4 pm every Monday Liz Doucett will be in the Genealogy Room at Curtis to help you with your questions.  Liz’s focus is on Canadian genealogy but she can also help beginners in any area get their research going.  If you are an advanced researcher with a question, plan to come in and meet with Lynne on Fridays since she is an expert across many different areas.

We are also planning our spring Genealogy Get-togethers.  We generally alternate between beginner and more advanced topics but we would like to hear from you!  If there is a particular topic or area of genealogy research about which you would like to learn, please email Liz at edoucett@curtislibrary.com.  We will do our best to incorporate requests into planning for the spring classes.

Finally, please feel free to let us know if there are resources you would like to have in the Genealogy Room.  Sometimes requests are too expensive for the library to purchase immediately but we keep a list in case we find a donor interested in supporting genealogy research.  So, don’t hesitate to email your requests to Liz.  Happy research!

My Facebook Genealogy Experiment

Posted by Elisabeth Doucett on February 2nd, 2018

I decided that I should not write about a research methodology in this blog unless I’ve tried it myself.  So, yesterday I decided to do more than just read my genealogy feeds on Facebook.  I wrote up a brief summary of my Canadian research, identified my brick wall and then posted that information on the Ontario Genealogy Facebook page.

The response was so much fun!  Within 15 minutes I got back responses from three people, all with either more questions or ideas about what I might try next.  In the next hour another five people responded.

In this day and age how great is it that people I don’t know, most of whom live in Canada, jumped right in to respond to my questions?  They were friendly, interested, and obviously knew their genealogy “stuff”.

I did not get the answer to my brick wall nor did I really expect that I would.  However, I did get two good pieces of information that will help my research.  I also realized that a genealogy page on Facebook can provide active, smart help in my genealogy research and most importantly, I once again realized how helpful and kind genealogists are as a community!

So, if you need a little burst of fresh air for your genealogy research, try posting a question on a Facebook genealogy page.  Be short, succinct, and clear in the research you’ve done.  Then, sit back and get ready to make some new friends.  Happy research!

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