The Luck of the Irish Just Got Better: Griffith’s Valuation and Tithe Applotments Online

Ancestry____logo.bmpIf you have Irish roots, today is your lucky day! Ancestry has posted an Index to Griffith’s Valuation, 1848-1864, and Tithe Applotment Books, 1824-1837 to its collection of Irish records. 

Griffith’s Valuation, references approximately one million individuals who occupied property in Ireland between 1848 and 1864. The Griffith’s Valuation, or Primary Valuation of Ireland, was executed under the direction of Sir Richard Griffith to determine the amount of tax each person should pay towards the support of the poor within their poor law union. This involved determining the value of all privately held lands and buildings in rural as well as urban areas to figure the rate at which each unit of property could be rented year after year. The resulting survey was arranged by barony and civil parish with an index to the townlands appearing in each volume. The original volumes of the survey are held in the National Archives, Dublin and Public Record Office, Belfast.

Few other records can be used to identify an immigrant ancestor’s exact place of origin, and only Griffith’s Valuation links an individual to a specific townland and civil parish. This information is of extreme importance since the first step in Irish genealogical research is to identify an ancestor’s townland and civil parish. This information can lead you to ecclesiastical parish records of births and marriages.

Information listed in the index includes:

  • Name
  • County of residence
  • Parish of residence

The Tithe Applotment Books record the results of a unique land survey taken to determine the amount of tax payable by landholders to the Church of Ireland, the established church until 1869. They are known as the Tithe Applotment Books because the results of this land survey were originally compiled in nearly 2,000 hand-written books. Continue reading

Dublin Cemetery Records to Be Made Available Online

Just in time for St. Patty’s Day, we get word that Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery, which dates back to 1832, will be posting its older registers online. According to the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO), “Until recent times, the capital’s Catholics generally used Glasnevin while the Protestants tended to favour Mount Jerome.” The pay-per-view service is expected to be available in upcoming weeks. For more information, see the CIGO news page.

Weekly Planner: Scan Documents

scanner.bmpAre all of your documents in electronic form? Provided you have access to a scanner, scanning documents is a great way to take your research with you wherever you go. Look through the folders and binders you have and do one family at a time, scanning records and saving them to files set up by surname, or add them to your online software. Having them all in one place makes it easy to reference them without having to lug out large files. If you have a laptop, you will have your records with you wherever you take your computer.

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The Joys of Sharing, by Juliana Smith

The other day I phoned my Aunt Judy, my dad’s little sister. She’s very special to me, but with more than 300 miles separating us, we don’t get to see each other or talk as often as I’d like. Her husband answered the phone, and we had a nice chat. He’s been working on his own family history for several years, and now he’s putting together some information for our side of the family. He had located the family in the 1920 census at, but was unable to locate the same people in 1910 or 1930. He asked if I had ever found them in those census years and if I had any other information I could share.

Since I hadn’t really worked on my dad’s family in a while, I took some time going through my files in search of interesting items that they might enjoy and find helpful. I have to confess to having a little ulterior motive: I want to keep them interested. Family history is always more fun when someone wants to join you in the hunt. I quickly shot off a few e-mails filled with family history goodies. This little exercise surprised me with some great new clues. Some clues had been there all along and were overlooked, but by adding more recent discoveries to the mix I’ve found a new path to follow.

Put Your Thoughts in Writing
With each record I sent, I wrote a paragraph or two about that particular record so that they could better understand why I was sending it. In some cases I just pointed out interesting tidbits that I’d found in the document. In others I addressed discrepancies and questions that still need to be answered. While I try to make notes immediately after I draw conclusions from documents, I found a few cases where I hadn’t done that. After sending the e-mails to Uncle Bruce, I printed the documents with their respective e-mails and placed each in the appropriate family three-ring binder. These highlights and explanations will help me the next time I need to revisit the files. Additionally, if someone else wants to join in the hunt in the future, these annotated documents will also serve as a guide to the research I’ve completed and why conclusions were made. Continue reading

Using Ancestry: Inside the California Voter Registration Database, by Denise Platt Stewart

Grandpa was a drug dealer–or so he claimed when he registered to vote in the city of Oakland, Alameda County, in 1924. That’s just one discovery made while searching the recently posted database, the California Voter Registrations, 1900-1968 on Ancestry.
This was news to me. After years of research and long talks with my Dad before he died last May, I knew that my immigrant grandfather, Frederick Platt Sr., was fluent in German, French, Italian, Latin, and English and had worked as a technical translator in the Entomology Department at the University of California, Berkeley. While I realized that he had held a variety of jobs after WWI and during the Depression, I wondered about this latest occupational label, and set out to learn more.

About the Database
The Ancestry collection chronicles voter registration in most California counties from 1900 through 1944; a few extend to the 1960s. Though the data varies from year to year, it usually documents the voter’s name, address, occupation, and registration district (precinct or ward) within each county. In addition to Democrats (DEM) and Republicans (REP), voter preferences may also include the Progressive (PROG), Socialist (SOC), Prohibition (PROH), or even Communist (CST) party. Voters could also “Decline to state” (DEC) their political affiliation.

Charting Political Trends
Finding Grandpa Platt in the database was easy. Using the wildcard search “Fred*” along with his surname and “Alameda County” produced eighteen hits, which I narrowed to sixteen when I looked at the time frame during which he lived in California.

From 1912 until 1934, my grandfather consistently registered as a Republican, though his occupation varied from department manager to auctioneer to accountant, as well as the brief stint in 1924 when he apparently sold pharmaceuticals or worked in an apothecary–a.k.a. a drug dealer in those days! However, in 1936 both he and my grandmother, Claire A. Platt, registered as Democrats, and continued that way through the last record found in 1944. What happened between 1934 and 1936 that might have influenced their political leanings? Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: April is National Volunteer Month, from Paula Stuart Warren, CG

April is National Volunteer Month and although we are just entering March, I hope that by April many of us have agreed to begin or continue a volunteer job within a genealogical society. Look at your society’s website or newsletter for someone to contact. Societies do not run themselves; many volunteers make it run smoothly. If you don’t know what help is needed, just ask. Let me know what volunteer job you have agreed to do and during April I will let readers know about some of these jobs. Tell me your name, city of residence, and for what society (and locality) you are volunteering. You can e-mail them to me at:

To get you started, think about offering your services for these jobs:

  • Check to see if they need a proofreader.
  • The editor might welcome an article on your genealogical quest or about a library or archive that you have visited.
  • Offer to bring the refreshments for a meeting.
  • Don’t live close to a historical or genealogical library? Offer to do indexing from home.
  • Society’s publications not completely indexed? Another job that can be done from home.
  • Schedule a time to teach a class on using Ancestry.
  • Promise to be the greeter at monthly meetings for the next six months.
  • Any one of 1,255 other jobs!

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Your Quick Tips

Can’t Be Stressed Enough . . .
I used to work in a computer store as a tech. We always stressed the importance of doing regular backups. This is something that I adamantly preach, but unfortunately failed to practice. About a month ago, my hard drive crashed. Most of the data on there will be missed, of course. The most heartbreaking, however, was the loss of nearly five hundred pictures (mostly of my eighteen-month-old daughter) and Family Tree Maker files. I was almost sick with the thought of how many memories I had lost and the time it would take to re-type everything. I now back up all data at least once a week, more often if I make a lot of changes. Please, back up your data NOW.
Kevin D. Babiuk Continue reading

The Year Was 1851

Crystal Palace 1851The year was 1851 and Great Britain was an industrial powerhouse. To celebrate recent innovations, an exhibition was held in London at the Crystal Palace. (Click on the image to enlarge it.) This international exhibition was made up of 13,000 exhibits from around the globe, housed in a huge iron frame covered with a million feet of glass.

It was a memorable year not only for the exhibition, but those with roots in the UK probably associate it with the 1851 census that was on the night of 30 March 1851. Forms were passed out on the days prior and then collected on 31 March, representative of everyone who spent the night in the dwelling. The information collected included:

  • Name of street, place, road, etc.
  • House number or name
  • Name of each person that had spent the night in that household\
  • Relationship of person enumerated to the head of the family
  • Person’s marital status
  • Age at last birthday (sex is indicated by which column the age is recorded in)
  • Person’s rank, profession, or occupation
  • Person’s place of birth (if outside of England or Wales, only the country may be given)
  • Whether blind, deaf, or an idiot

Likewise, in Canada a census was taken in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, but it wasn’t taken in one night like it was in the UK, and in some cases stretched into 1852. Questions asked varied among the provinces that were enumerated. (More information on what questions were asked can be found online in the Ancestry member database description of that enumeration.

In Limerick, Ireland, a blustery and thundering Sunday took a turn for the worse as a tornado cut a 150-foot swath through the city with winds estimated at 115 mph. Because the city took a direct hit, the damage was significant particularly in the market areas that were thankfully not busy because it was Sunday and the weather was so inclement.

In the United States, weather was taking a toll in Iowa. An unusually wet 1850 was followed in May by persistent rains that fell on saturated ground. The rains continued into July and rivers and streams swelled over their banks sweeping away buildings, livestock and trees, and devastating farmland. Southeastern areas of the state, which were also the most populous, were hardest hit.

Settlers were streaming even further westward, and in November 1851 the Denny party landed at Alki Point in Washington. In a couple years, these settlers would be the first residents of Seattle, which was laid out in 1853.

On Christmas Eve, a fire began in the Library of Congress. More than two-thirds of the collection was destroyed, including the part of the personal library of Thomas Jefferson, which had been donated in 1815 following the burning of the Capitol in 1814 by the British during the War of 1812.

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Image: Crystal Palace from the Library of Congress Photo Collection at Ancestry.