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A visual genealogy

Posted by Elisabeth Doucett on August 19th, 2016

Have you ever thought about combining an interest in genealogy with quilting?  Below is a wonderful article about a couple that recorded on a quilt their family’s genealogy and migration to the New World.

I love the idea of making genealogy a visual endeavor and putting it in a quilt is a wonderful way to ensure that your research gets passed on to future generations.  Who wouldn’t love to have something like this in their family!  The link to the original article can be found here.  Happy research.

Quilt traces 4 centuries of family history

‘It’s really important that we learn where we’ve come from’

By Kevin Yarr, CBC News Posted: Aug 19, 2016 8:00 AM

p-e-i-ancestral-quilt 1David Walker and Suzan Bouchard pose with the quilt. (Lindsay Carroll/CBC)

A quilt tracing a family’s journey from the Old World to the New World will serve as a humbling reminder, says a P.E.I. man.



David Walker’s wife Suzan Bouchard spent more than 100 hours on the quilt, which tracks the path of 25 of Walker’s ancestors across a map. They travelled from all around the British Isles, settling on P.E.I. and in New England, the earliest ones having to carve a living out of the wilderness.


The quilt traces the routes taken by David Walker’s ancestors. (Lindsay Carroll/CBC)


p-e-i-ancestral-quilt2A scroll attached to the quilt details the journeys.

“It makes me feel humble, because my life is a lot more simple than the life that these ancestors had,” said Walker.

Ancestors included on the quilt include Mary Barrett, who was hanged in Boston in 1660 for the crime of being a Quaker in the colony. A statue of her now stands in front of the Massachusetts state capitol.

The quilt traces the routes taken by David Walker’s ancestors. (Lindsay Carroll/CBC)

Walker felt it was important to find a way to record the research he had done on his family history.

“I think it’s really important that we learn where we’ve come from to, I guess, make better decisions on where we’re going,” he said.

The quilt was recently displayed at the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada convention, held in Summerside, P.E.I.






Cyanotypes, calotypes, and daguerreotypes – oh my!

Posted by Elisabeth Doucett on August 15th, 2016

0_early_processes_-_cyanotypeI recently discovered in a drawer a wonderful picture of my great-grandmother that was all blue – it looked like a blueprint.   Why was it blue?  That photo sent me off in search of learning something about photography.  My hope was that if I could learn more about photographic history it might help me roughly date some of the photos collected by my relatives over the years and that, in turn, would help my genealogy research.

I discovered that the blue photograph was a cyanotype and is one of the oldest photographic processes.  It was invented by Sir John Herschel in 1840, using a mixture of ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide to produce a light sensitive paper on which could be captured an image.  The paper only had to be washed to produce that image.  The process was used in the 1840’s and 1850’s and then became used primarily to produce architectural blueprints.  I think the photos are beautiful in their simplicity.

Why am I writing about a photographic process on a genealogy blog?  The early years of photography were filled with experimentation with different photographic processes like the cyanotype.  There are albumen prints, calotypes, contact prints, daguerreotypes, silver prints, and film negatives.  By identifying the type of photographic process used and then evaluating the clothing worn by the people in the image, you can often narrow down the date of the photograph to a very small time period.  Obviously, this is wonderful information for a genealogist to have in hand as they research a family member.

Where should you go if you want to learn more about photographic processes?  The New York Public Library has a simple overview – “An Introduction to Photographic Processes” that is very helpful.  The British Museum provides some additional detail and historical photograph examples on their website here.

If you like books for your information check out Family photo detective : learn how to find genealogy clues in old photos and solve family photo mysteries by Maureen A. Taylor, available at Curtis in the genealogy collection (Genealogy & Local History 929.1 Taylor 2013).  Have fun and happy research!


Genealogy Gophers?

Posted by Elisabeth Doucett on July 29th, 2016

GenealogyGophersLogoI’m always looking for new genealogy tools.  I like to find resources that are free and share the information about them here.  If there is any catch to using them, I will let you know.  I generally only share the names of new genealogy tools that I’ve tried myself to ensure that they are truly useful.

I’ve found a research site that I would recommend checking into.  Genealogy Gophers ( provides free access to many, many genealogy books.  Free means there are no charges to use the site.  All you have to do is sign up – no credit cards required.

What’s on the site that is of value?  It provides access to more than 80,000 digitized genealogy books, family histories, regional and local histories, genealogy magazines and how-to books, newsletters, and medieval histories.  So, when you are searching you don’t have to weed through a lot of materials that have nothing to do with genealogy.  They are all genealogy related which speeds up your entire research process.

Additionally the site highlights that its search tools differ from the norm (below is from their website):

  • The search engine ignores key word search and uses a completely different technical approach. It’s a unique process that’s been developed and tuned specifically for identifying real people named in genealogy books. It creates its fast, searchable people index by identifying and indexing only those words likely to be names, dates, and locations – not every word is indexed as is done with the key word search approach.
  • A list of titles that likely contain your ancestor is returned in a search. But the site also attaches to each book title a snippet of the page in the book that displays your search term highlighted so you can quickly check each search result for relevancy.

I love going through old books to hunt down my ancestors.  Partly that’s because I’m a librarian and I love going through old books.  Partly it’s because it feels like the ultimate treasure hunt, with the prize being a new piece of learning about my family.  For those of you who feel the same way about research, check out and happy research!

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