Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Library And Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada is one of if not the most important source for historians and genealogists. Having said that how then do we access information. Well there’s the rub. A huge amount of the material in the possession of the Archives is in microfiche and microfilm form not online.

The easiest would be to go to Ottawa and do the research there. Of course. not all of us can afford the expense and time to do this. Also, hours of operation have changed and one needs to keep track of the Archives accessibility.  John D. Reid in his blog “Anglo-Celtic Connections”  does a good job of keeping us informed of the goings on at the Archives.

Some of the collections are online http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/index-e.html , and you need time and the patience of Job to go through them. The Data bases are extensive and the following is a short list:

Aboriginal Peoples
 Art and Photography
Biography and People
Ethno-Cultural Groups
 Exploration and Settlement
 Military and Peacekeeping: (For our purposes these include Soldiers of the South African and First World War. A good deal of this information is on Ancestry; however, I would not recommend you running out and getting a subscription for information that is free here. One thing Ancestry is useful for is for information on Canadians who for one reason or another served with British Forces. A first cousin of my grandfather and an uncle of mine both fall into this category. You could say that the Brits swiped them. The cousin from the Canadian Corps and my uncle from the R.C.A.F.)
Music and Performing Arts
 National Identity
 Newspapers: (The Canada Gazette)
 Other Topics: (Theses and Dissertations, Shipwrecks, Transportation, Printing and Publishing)
Philately and Postal History
Politics and Government: (Not something you will find me jumping to read)
 Vital Statistics: (Mostly genealogical)

OK so how to access. There are regional offices maintained in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Halifax. That doesn’t help me here in London. Probably the best alternative is to through your library. There is an inter-library loan service available. Check first as there might be some of the records that you want already available in your Library’s Regional or Genealogy Center. If not, you need the microfilm reel number, and then request the item through your Library. Mind you for those of you in a university town problem somewhat solved. The University of Western Ontario in my hometown has a pretty good collection of the microfilms from Library and Archives Canada. Hooray for the History Department.

Good Hunting.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

10 Top Conundrums For Genealogists - Or Dare I Say - Historical Researchers

1. The elderly person you needed to interview passed away recently.
2. Photograph everything. The next time you drive by it will be demolished.
3. The grave marker you most want to photograph will be illegible.
4. Never ask a genealogist “tell me about your family?”
5. Even if your research is 99% right genealogists will notice the 1%.
6. They will line up to tell you about it.
7. The one fact that you really really wanted will magically appear after you have posted your research on your blog.
8. Print that information quickly before it disappears into cyberspace.
9. The Archives will have a fabulous collection that can’t be opened yet due to privacy reasons.
10. The death certificate of your great great grandfather is not yet available because 50 years is not dead enough.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Abner B. Hillman

There has always been a strong link between Southwestern Ontario and the State of Michigan. During the American Civil War many from Southwestern Ontario fought largely in the Union Army. There was reported to exist a Confederate recruiting office in London, Ontario(then Canada West), and a number of deserters from both armies lived in the London area. The J.J. Tallman Collection at the University of Western Ontario has a list of known members of the London branch of the Grand Army of the Republic from October 1891 to December 1911.

What caught my interest is the name Abner B. Hillman. Is he in anyway connected to my ancestors?  Abner Hillman appears in the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Census’s.  He puts his birth as 1836 in Canada. Since both census’s find him in Napoleon, Michigan I will make a wild stab and say that he was born somewhere in Southwestern Ontario. Unfortunately Ancestry does not give me any birth information prior to the 1850’s, and that is sporadic. No proof of any relationship there. Also, with my family I have found certain favourite Christian names , ie. John, George, William. The name Abner does not appear in my family tree. Not conclusive proof but a hint perhaps.

Abner Hillman is found at age 14 on a farm with the Hanley family in Napoleon, Michigan probably as a farm labourer. In the 1860 Census he is still in Napoleon with the Smith family as a farm labourer. I will need to look into both those families to see if there is a connection.

Abner B. Hillman enlisted as a Private on 17 August 1861 with the 7th Michigan Infantry, and drowned while on march on 19th  August, 1862. He is buried in the Cyprus Hills National Cemetery, New York State.

Elgin County Archives

The Elgin County Archives  launched  “Elgin’s Great War: Sources on the First World War from the holdings of the Elgin County Archives” last March. This digitization project was made possible by a grant from the Canadian Culture Online Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage, Library and Archives Canada and the Canadian Council of Archives.

More than 3000 photographs, documents and objects relating to Elgin County’s contribution to Canada’s efforts in the First World War are now searchable online. They can be found at  http://www.elgin.ca/

For genealogists there is more here than simply information of interest to historians of the Great War. There is also an extensive exhibit documenting the history of Alma College in St. Thomas. Chances are very good that if your family came from St. Thomas someone of your female ancestors attended this school.

Photo :  91st Battalion Company D from the Elgin County Archives : “Elgin’s Great War: Sources on the First World War from holdings of the Elgin County Archives:.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What’s Your Genealogical Superpower?

Dean Richardson in his blog “ Genlighten Blog - Genealogy Documented “ asked the question “ what’s your genealogical superpower?”. Randy Seaver included this question on “Genea-Musings” Saturday as a challenge to all bloggers.

I like challenges especially if they are fun and not taken too too seriously. In that view I will follow in Sheri Fenley’s footsteps in her blog “The Educated Genealogist”.

Superpowers? Well not really. I am a rather good researcher: but, that is not saying too much; after all, I did spend eight years toiling at university to get my Masters. I did learn a thing or two about the how-to’s and how-not-to’s in research.

Rather than superpowers would the good fairies please come and organize my notes and files?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year 2010

Well, another decade gone! Where did they all go?

I see that many of the bloggers that I keep track of are posting New Year Resolutions. I am not big on that preferring to go with the flow. However, towards the end of  last year  I did start two projects. One was to get on the waiting list for a Pro Gen Study Group. It looks like I am in for a group that starts February 1st.
I wonder if I am the only Canadian in that group?  We shall see. Secondly, I have started researching the veterans of World War One who came from Southwestern Ontario. I have started a new blog Veterans Of Southwestern Ontario http://swveterans.blogspot.com/ in which I will post results of my research as I get it done. Ultimately I will see if I can get it published. Remember though that I am a Gemini and I will get distracted by anything interesting that pops up!

Also, many bloggers are listing their favourite blogs of 2009. I am not a big blog reader. My criteria for reading blogs are:
1. Canadian content(that narrows things down a lot)
2. Technical content. I am interested in the blogs that take some time to go through computer issues in genealogy
3. Whatever catches my interest(Gemini again).

As a result my favorites(those I read daily) are:

Anglo-Celtic Connections  http://anglo-celtic-connections.blogspot.com/ mainly because this blog meets all requirements.
Canadian Genealogy-or Jane’s Your Aunt http://canadagenealogy.blogspot.com/ .  This one is different.
Olive Tree Genealogy Blog  http://olivetreegenealogy.blogspot.com/ . This one is full of useful information.
CanadaGenWeb’s Blog  http://canadagenweb.blogspot.com/  . Useful to keep an eye out for what’s happening across the country.
Genea-Musings  http://www.geneamusings.com/  . Randy Seaver includes a great deal about the technical side of genealogy.
The Educated Genealogist  http://sherifenley.blogspot.com/  . A genealogist who does not take herself seriously. Its refreshing.
The Genealogue  http://www.genealogue.com/  .  A well written irreverent blog. I love it!
ELegal  http://canton.elegal.ca/  . David Canton is a business lawyer based in London, Ontario. His articles on the web are very good. Bloggers do need to keep track of what the legal beagles are up to.

I periodically scan others but no where near what some others read in the day. I simply do not have the attention span thank you very much.  Eh!