Weekly Planner: Your 2008 Family History Goals

As we face the New Year tomorrow, let’s look ahead and set some goals in our family history research. Whether your goal is to finally find great-grandpa in the 1900 census, to file that stack of papers, label those photographs, or master a new skill–make a list of things you’d like to accomplish this year. Then take each item and plan to make it happen. Set aside a certain amount of time each day to browse through the census for great-grandpa, even if it’s just ten minutes over that morning cup of coffee. Keep track of where you left off for the next day. File or label photos for fifteen minutes a day. Investigate classes or publications that can help you further your research and grow your skills. Let’s make this a great year for your family history!

Avoiding Assumptions, by Michael John Neill

There are times when we create our own genealogy “brick walls.” They are created unintentionally, in some cases slowly over time, but one brick at a time we have made them ourselves. There are several ways one can create a family history problems, one of the easiest ways is to make erroneous assumptions.

You know your ancestors lived. You know they reproduced at least once. You know the mother was present at the birth of any children and that (with potentially a few exceptions) your ancestors are deceased. Virtually everything else you know about your ancestors came from either a piece of paper, someone’s mind, or both.

The problem is that sometimes we might have gotten information about our long-deceased ancestors from our own mind. I’m not talking about channeling or talking to spirits. What I am talking about are assumptions we might have made about our ancestor’s lives even though we never actually met the ancestor. Our assumptions may be completely correct, or they may be completely wrong. If they are completely wrong, they are hindering our research and may be why additional information cannot be located.

This week I am including some assumptions that could be hampering your research. Do not assume the list is complete. Assume that the suggestions listed here may need to be tweaked to fit your own family. Continue reading

You Asked Sherry: Irish Migration to Britain, by Sherry Irvine, CG, FSA Scot

Emigration from Ireland to the United States, Canada, and Australia has received a lot of attention from historians and genealogists. Much less attention has been given to the Irish who moved to mainland Britain–England, Scotland, or Wales. This is surprising considering that Britain was the second most popular destination for Irish emigrants in the nineteenth century and the most popular destination in the twentieth century. Overall, next to the United States, Britain has received the second highest number of Irish immigrants.

The lack of information on these emigrations has a direct bearing on genealogical research. It can be a challenge to find the origins of ancestors who crossed the Irish Sea.

Lack of Historical Data
There is less information about migration from Ireland to Britain because such moves were regarded as internal, within the same country. Before 1922, anyone going from Ireland to Britain was simply changing counties and no one saw any need to record the migrants. As a result, historians have found it difficult to come up with numbers.

Census returns are the best sources of data because from the first nominal census in 1841 everyone was required to provide information about their birthplace. For those born in Ireland, there was never a requirement to record anything more than “Ireland” as the birthplace, although some enumerators added the county name in 1851 and later returns.

The statistics of the census returns reveal that highest numbers of Irish-born in Britain were recorded in 1861 in the post-famine period and larger numbers in 1951 and 1971. Scotland remained a popular choice up to the 1930s attracting nearly a third of the Irish who moved to mainland Britain, but Scotland was much less popular after the Second World War. In Glasgow the Irish-born population swelled from 10 percent in 1819 to 25 percent in 1845. This number became even higher as a result of the famine.

There is almost no information about the religious persuasion of Irish immigrants to England, Scotland, and Wales. The common assumption is that most were Catholic, but in his book, “The Irish Diaspora,” Donald Akenson argues that as many as twenty to thirty percent were not; numbers varied with the time period. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Library Book Sales Provide Treasures, by George G. Morgan

Many public libraries are supported by their Friends of the Library groups. One of their prime fund-raising ventures is the book sale. Such an event can be used to liquidate older versions of books that can be valuable to your genealogical research. Older atlases may be useless to a library or a donor, but may be invaluable to your work. Reference books; language dictionaries; almanacs; local, state and national histories; and other books may supplement your reference collection at a tiny fraction of the price of new books. Check with your library as to whether they or other libraries in your area sponsor book sales.

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Your Quick Tips, 31 December 2007

Embroider Names and Dates on Christening Gown
When I read the tradition you published about the christening gown, it brought back some memories. When my first grandchild was about to be born, I was crocheting a christening gown. A friend told me that in Australia the tradition is that each child that is christened in the gown gets his/her name and christening date embroidered on the slip under the gown. This would make a great tradition.
Linda Brammer Continue reading

The Year Was… Year End Review

We’ve now covered eighty-nine years in “The Year Was . . .” series, ranging from 1776 to 1969. I’ve updated our complete list and it’s now available on the blog. I’m looking forward to another year of delving into history and I have to say it’s been a great history lesson for me!

Click here to access the entire list of years covered.  

Photo Corner

John LindenContributed by Nancy Peralta, Buena Park, California
This photo shows my great-uncle, John Linden, and his wife. John was born in Aurora, Illinois, to immigrant parents from Luxembourg.

Click on an image to enlarge it.

Edward Shamblin, Charleston, West VirginiaContributed by Sandy Shamblin-Strickland, Fayetteville, North Carolina
My dad (Edward Shamblin, Charleston, West Virginia) died in April of 2007. In this picture, Dad looks to be about seventeen or eighteen; he reminds us of what a teenager looked like in the late 30s.