A User’s Guide to the General Register Office in Dublin, by Eileen Ó Dúill

The General Register Office (GRO), holds vital records and is generally the first stop for family historians visiting Dublin. To be precise, there are three General Register Offices on the island of Ireland. Since the beginning of civil registration of births, marriages and deaths, the General Register Office of Ireland was located in Dublin. Beginning in 1922, all civil records for the six counties of Northern Ireland are found at the General Register Office in Belfast.

Under a government decentralization programme, the General Register Office was moved from Dublin to Roscommon town in 2005. A campaign, spearheaded by genealogists and family historians, convinced the Irish government to guarantee a full research facility in the city of Dublin. This research facility, the third General Register Office, provides photocopies of records while the GRO in Roscommon issues certificates. So, Dublin is the place to go to research your family history after 1845.

What Am I Looking For?
Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths for the whole population of Ireland began in 1864. Marriages of non-Catholics began on 1 April 1845. Indexes up to 1877 are annual and from 1878 onward they are done on a quarterly basis. From 1903, the index to births includes the maiden name of the mother of the child which is a great help in identifying the correct record. (Remember that after 1921, records for the six counties of Northern Ireland are found in the GRO in Belfast.)

Format of GRO Indices
Indexes to the vital records held at the GRO are compiled on a yearly/quarterly basis in alphabetical order by surname. Some maternity hospitals registered children simply as male or female, while parents provided given names in baptismal registers. Check male and female entries as well as the given name.

Beginning in 1903 in Dublin, the mother’s maiden name is included in the index to births. When searching for a marriage, ensure that the names of the bride and groom cross reference to the same volume, page and quarter. 

The LDS church has filmed the indices to births, marriages, and deaths up to 1958. These are available on microfilm through your local Family History Centre. In addition they have filmed the certificates of birth from 1864 to the first quarter of 1881. Births from 1900 to 1913 have also been filmed. Marriages and deaths up to 1870 are also available. Check the FamilySearch website (www.familysearch.org) for the International Genealogical Index.

While many Irish records have not been microfilmed by the LDS, you can still do preliminary research in your local FHC before you come to Ireland. Become familiar with the area you ancestors came from. The index shows the Superintendent Registrar’s District, not the county or town so identify the correct SRD for you family. A short bibliography has been provided to assist you.  
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Tips from the Pros: Finding Immigrant Origins in the Old Country-A Dozen Possibilities, from Loretto D. Szucs

Cove of Cork.jpg1. Death certificates of immigrants will often include the name of the town in which they were born in the “Old World,” and depending on the time and place, some marriage and birth records will give you the exact birthplaces of their parents.

2. Records pertaining to your ancestor’s relatives and even close friends may point to their mutual hometown or birthplace. Family members and friends who emigrated from the same place usually settled close to one another in their new homeland.

3. Gravestone inscriptions sometimes include the birthplace of an immigrant. If your ancestor’s grave did not include that clue, be sure to look at graves of relatives or close friends who may have come from the same place.

4. Obituaries frequently provide the exact town in which the subject was born or lived in their home country.

5. World War I Draft Records include birthplaces of adult males who were living in the U.S.–even if they were foreign born.

6. Naturalization records, particularly those filed after 1906, include birthplaces, and often also include birthplaces of spouses and children. Although naturalization records filed prior to 1906 generally do not include specific birthplaces, there are many exceptions, depending on where and when an alien filed for citizenship. In cases where an ancestor was not naturalized prior to WWII, alien registration papers (available through CSIS) also provide precise birthplace information.

8. Ethnic collections including published histories of specific nationalities and fraternal organizations, neighborhood collections in libraries, and foreign language newspapers may include hard-to-find biographical sketches. Special collections like Immigrant Savings Bank found at Ancestry.com also include the exact birthplaces of individuals who had accounts in that bank. Irish, German, Polish, and other ethnic genealogical societies have collected and indexed unique collections of biographical materials.

8. Church Records often include the birthplaces of parents and those godparents and witnesses of marriages. Often entire congregations emigrated together from Europe and founded churches in their new homeland so by understanding the history of a particular church, it may be possible to determine the origins of the entire group.

9. Old letters, photographs, journals and diaries as well as old world souvenirs often contain clues to our ancestors’ past. If you are not fortunate enough to have inherited any of these items, it may be worth asking older relatives or cousins who may be willing to share information or copies of documents or photographs. 

10. Old Newspapers have a lot more to offer than obituaries, consider wedding and engagement announcements as well as other events that may have earned immigrants a place in the social pages. Wedding Anniversaries, business accomplishments, visiting relatives, travel abroad, social gatherings, club news, awards and accident reports are also places to look for immigrant origins.

11. Probate and other records generated in the courts sometimes include the birthplaces and former homes of immigrants. Many unmarried immigrants bequeathed their belongings to relatives in the old country, thereby making it possible to determine home towns.
12. Online sources such as published local and families histories, family trees, and message boards are also worth searching for leads that will help you determine an immigrant’s homeland.

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Your Quick Tips, 20 October 2008

Check the Neighbors
When you find a record in the U.S. census, don’t forget to click on the link for viewing others on the page. Some of these neighbors might just be family that you were searching for but could not find, especially if names were misspelled or transcribed erroneously. I have found many clues that helped me break through many brick walls by using this feature.
Patrick Fehring
Grove City, Ohio Continue reading

Photo Corner, 20 October 2008

Bridget McNerneyContributed by Susan T. Mason, Los Angeles, California
This is my great-great-grandmother, Bridget McNerney. She was born in 1851, Co. Clare, Ireland. She is sixteen in the picture.

Click on an image to enlarge it.

20081020JohnDuddy2.jpgContributed by Jack Lamphier
This is my paternal great-grandfather, John Duddy. He was born in 1839 in Londonderry, Ireland. He immigrated to England about 1864 or 1865.

We Need Your Feedback on the Ancestry Weekly Journal

awj_masthead.gifSorry for the light week on the blog, but it’s been crazy-busy around here. I just got back from a trip to Utah last week and then this week I spent a lot of time getting ready for the webinar I did Wednesday with Maureen Taylor. (If you missed it, it’s now available in the Ancestry Learning Center.) For those of you who caught it or are planning on watching it in the archive, I apologize on the sound quality for my portions. Apparently my phone lines need to be checked because try as we might, we could not get a good clear phone connection that night.

I have a favor I’d like to ask of you. We’re looking for some feedback on the Ancestry Weekly Journal and here on the 24/7 blog. What are your favorite items in the AWJ? Or perhaps there is something you could do without? Is the newsletter too long? Too short? What do you want more of? Less of? Is there a section that you just don’t need? What types of articles do you find the most helpful? Is weekly too often to keep up with? We want to know your needs so that we can continue to address them in the best way possible.

We thought about putting out a traditional survey, but I would like to hear what you like and dislike about the newsletter in your own words, so I thought I’d solicit some comments here on the blog. We want to make sure we’re continuing to provide you with the tools, information, and inspiration that helps you with your family history research. Thanks a lot for taking the time to share your thoughts with us!

Have a great weekend!


AncestryPress is Now MyCanvas

MyCanvas.gifAncestryPress–Ancestry’s online self-publishing service–has a new name, MyCanvas, and a new website. You can check out the new site by clicking the “Print & Share” tab (formerly the “Publish” tab) on Ancestry.com. Customers who go to AncestryPress.com will automatically be forwarded to MyCanvas.Ancestry.com.

While the site has a new look, the publishing program is virtually unchanged, except for a few additional features. You can still access your AncestryPress projects by going to the MyProjects page. As before, the publishing program is tightly integrated with Ancestry.com, allowing Ancestry members to automatically create family history books and family tree posters based on data, records and photos in their online trees. MyCanvas offers all of the products that were available in AncestryPress, plus a new custom cover photo book and an exclusive line of premium books for special occasions.

Premium family history books are available in an 11″x8.5″ format with a velvet or nubuck cover. Premium photo books are available in two sizes–11″x8.5″ or 8″x8″–and four cover types: velvet, nubuck, genuine leather or Japanese silk. Now through November 3, Ancestry members can save $50 on any premium book with this coupon code: MCPREM8.

Yearbook Collection Doubles in Size and is Free Through the End of October

Last week, Ancestry doubled the size of the yearbook collection. The collection now contains more than 6,000 yearbooks ranging from 1902 to 2005.  You can search the updated yearbook collection for free through the end of October. Click here to search the yearbooks.  In conjunction with this yearbook release, Ancestry also kicked off a yearbook scanning project. Ancestry.com is compiling a nationwide collection of school yearbooks starting from the time yearbooks began in the U.S. These yearbooks will be digitized and the resulting images will be made available on our websites. The main purpose of this program is to collect yearbooks and histories from institutions such as schools and libraries, however, individuals with collections are welcome to participate also. Learn more about this project here.


New at Ancestry

Ancestry____logo.gifPosted This Week

Weekly Planner: Find a Story

When you’re intent on your family history quest, it’s easy to develop tunnel vision and forget to look for the stories in the records we find. With the click of a mouse we can add records and source information to our family tree in software or online at Ancestry. But are we taking the time to really read the record and examine it, not just for clues, but for the stories. Gather several records you have for your ancestor for a particular time period. Did one census show the head of the household was unemployed for a time during the census year? Did some of the older have an occupation listed as they worked to supplement the family income? Put the records in the context of history and look for events that would have impacted them at the time the record was created. By looking beyond the clues and at the implications of events, you’ll be able to better understand and preserve your family story. 

What stories have you uncovered through the records you’ve found? Share your family stories in the comments section below.