Archive for July, 2012

New to the blog: Polls

Friday, July 27th, 2012

We are going to try something new on the blog: Polls.  We will try to put a new one up each week.  The poll has been set up to allow you to choose as many answers from the list as you wish.  Missed something or having second thoughts on your choices?  No worries, simply refresh the page, and you can vote again!

Give it a try and have some fun!

[poll id="2"]

Periodicals: The United Kingdom: England

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Did your ancestors come to Canada from across the pond? Whether they came from Devon, London or Manchester, our collection contains journals and newsletters from most regions in England. Here are just a few:

South West

  • Devon Family Historian
  • Notes and Queries from Somerset and Dorset
  • The Gloucestershire Family History Journal
  • Wiltshire Family History Society Journal

London & the South East

  • Cockney Ancestor

 From the East of London Family History Society

  • Metropolitan

 From the London Westminster & Middlesex Family History Society

  • Essex Family Historian
  • Journal of the Cambridgeshire Family History Society
  • Hertfordshire People
  • Kent Family History Society Journal
  • The Norfolk Ancestor
  • Sussex Family Historian


  • Leicestershire Family History Society Newsletter
  • Nottinghamshire Family History Society Bulletin
  • The Oxfordshire Family Historian


  • Cumbria Family History Society
  • Huddersfield & District Family History Society Journal
  • Liverpool Family History Society Journal
  • The Manchester GenealogistNorthumberland & Durham Genealogical Society Journal
  • Yorkshire Family Historian

Next week: Scotland

War of 1812 Project has been extended until Sept 30, 2012

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Niagara Peninsula Branch would like to announce the deadline for their War of 1812 Project has been extended until Sept 30, 2012.

In recognition of the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812, the Niagara Peninsula Branch is compiling a commemorative book of family stories about Ancestors who fought in or were affected by the War of 1812 (i.e. house burned, claim for losses, provided supplies to the army).

If you have an Ancestor who falls into this category and you would like their story to be included in this book please go to the Branch Website for instructions.

All submissions must be received on or before midnight Sept 30, 2012.

Atlases: Do you know your boundaries?

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

Colton Map of Upper Canada 1855

How do you know if you are looking in the right place when searching for your Ontario ancestors? Did you know for instance, that there were actually two Ontario’s? When the Province of Ontario was created in 1867, a county of that name had been in existence, in one form or another, since 1792. When it was dissolved in 1974, southern portions of Ontario County would go into forming The Regional Municipality of Durham, while the northern portions would be subsumed by Simcoe County. Another example of shifting boundaries is Durham County. It too was dissolved 1974, portions of which now form the aforementioned Regional Municipality of Durham. Confusing is it not? No worries, we are here to help. What you need is a good atlas, and that is exactly what you will find in our library collection. Here is a wee sampling of the resources we offer:

1. County Atlases of Canada: A Descriptive Catalogue

a. National Archives of Canada National Map Collection

b. Call # 929.3 71 016 Natio 1970

2. Guide to southern Ontario place names for family researchers

a. Mary Kearns Trace

b. Call # 929.3 713 Trace 1986

3. Illustrated historical atlas of the County of Ontario, Ont., 1877

a. H. Beers and Co.; Cumming, Ross

b. O/S 911. 713 83 Atlas 1877

4. Historical atlas of Lanark and Renfrew Counties, Ontario, illustrated : H. Belden & Co., 1880-1881. Illustrated atlas of Lanark County, 1880 ; Illustrated atlas of Renfrew County, 1881 [both published by] H. Belden & Co., Toronto ; [with a] Map of the counties of Lanark and Renfrew from actual surveys under the direction of H.F. Walling, published by D.P. Putnam, Prescott, C.W., 1863

a. H. Belden and Co. [publisher] (Toronto, Ont.); D.P. Putnam [publisher] (Prescott, Ont.); H.F. Walling [engraver] (Prescott, Ont.); Cumming, Ross

b. Call # O/S 911. 713 82 Atlas 1880

5. Illustrated historical atlas of the county of Middlesex, Ont. Dedicated by special permission to His Excellency the Earl of Dufferin, K.P., K.C.B., Governor General.

a. H.R. Page and Co. [publisher] (Toronto, Ont.); Mika, Nick, 1912-; Mika, Helma, 1924-

b. Call # O/S 911. 713 25 Atlas 1878

6. Index for the Essex and Kent Counties historical atlas: [reprint edition] H. Belden & Co. Illustrated historical atlas of the counties of Essex & Kent, 1881

a. Dora Pineau

b. Call # 929.3 713 3 Pinea 1986

You will find a complete listing of all the atlases, and similar resources in our collection, by visiting our Catalogue. If you are looking for something online, here are two excellent resources.

1. The Canadian County Digital Atlas Project. This is an initiative undertaken by McGill University Libraries and something you should definitely check out if you are researching early Ontario ancestors.

2. The Changing Shape of Ontario: Guide to Boundaries, Names and Regional Government in Ontario, may be accessed through the Archives of Ontario’s website.

Once again, happy hunting!

Periodicals: The United States

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

If you have branches on your family tree that stretch into the United States, our collection hosts several excellent publications dealing specifically with American genealogy and family history research, such as:

1. Daughters of the American Revolution

• From the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution

2. Family Tree Magazine (US)

For those of you researching ancestors in Michigan, New York and New England, we have a number of publications from these regions. Here are just a few:

1. Michigana

o From the Western Michigan Genealogical Society

2. The New York Researcher

o From the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society

3. Western New York Genealogical Society Journal

o From the Western New York Genealogical Society

4. American Ancestors

o From the New England Historic Genealogical Society

5. American – Canadian Genealogist

o From the American – Canadian Genealogical Society of New Hampshire

Our collection also contains publications from California, Illinois, Minnesota, and even New Mexico. For more information on these and other United States specific resources in our collection, please check out our catalogue.

Next week: The United Kingdom and Ireland.

Archival Description: The Road Map to your Collection

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

So, just exactly what is archival description and why would you want to use it for your genealogical collection? In a nutshell, archival description is the process whereby you create a catalogue, finding aid, or access point, that tells you what is in the collection, and most importantly, where to find it. Now, you may be thinking, “but I just finished arranging the collection, of course I know where to find stuff!” It’s not the finding of stuff that is the point here; it’s where the stuff sits within your collection. If we refer back to how archival arrangement works, you will recall that while the fonds is your highest level of arrangement, it is really in creating the different records series where most of your work is going to be done. The more branches you have in your tree, the more records series you are going to have sitting in your collection. If you, and more to the point, whomever inherits the collection after you, wants to find great Aunt Myrtle’s 3rd cousin on her mother’s side, where exactly in the collection will this information be found. Unless you create some sort of access point as to where this 3rd cousin sits within the collection, finding them will be akin to finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Description is also about telling the story of your family and the people who populate your family tree. In archival speak we refer to this as the Biographical Sketch. Each level of arrangement has its accompanying description. At the fonds, or collection level, the biographical sketch would be an overview of the family itself. It’s up to you how much detail you put into it. To give you an idea of how a fonds level description is structured, check out this description of the Shipley Family from the Archive of Ontario’s website. The process is much the same when it comes to describing the different branches in your tree, and indeed, any of the individuals within that branch as well. What stories do great Aunt Myrtle and her 3rd cousin on her mother’s side have to tell? Again, it is completely up to you how much information and the level of detail you want to put into your description.

Remember, the whole point of doing this is twofold: So that anybody can easily find anything within your collection, and, so that the stories of your family, and the people in it, are given a voice.

Professions and Trades: Apprenticeships

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Although apprenticeships are still very much in existence today, their structure and administration bears little resemblance to what our ancestors would have experienced. 

Medieval baker

With roots stretching back to the middle ages, the administration of apprenticeships fell under the strict control of the powerful Guilds. As legal entities themselves, holding charters or letters patent from the highest local authority, guild activities were strictly governed and recorded with due diligence, none more so than apprenticeships. Apprentices were bonded, usually for a period of seven years, to a master crafts or tradesman.  This was in essence a binding contract between the two parties, and would have been duly documented in the respective Guild’s record books.  Information recorded in these books would have included:

  •  The name, address and specific trade of the master, as well as the respective Guild that the master would have been obliged to be a member of.
  • The name of the apprentice, but more importantly, the dates of the indenture

As you can see, records such as these are a treasure trove of information for genealogists. The challenge of course lay in finding them.  Although they have evolved over time, many of these medieval guilds still exist, such as the Livery Companies of the City of London. Information on how to access British apprenticeship records can be obtained through the National Archives website.  If you are researching Canadian apprenticeship records, here are some resources you can check out:

 Our own library collection at the North York Central Library also contains a few resources on this subject, including:

  •  Labouring Children: British Immigrant Apprentices to Canada, 1869-1924
    • By Joy Parr
    • Call # 331.31 0971 Parr 1994
  •  Nineteenth Century Apprentices in New York City
    • By Kenneth Scott
    • Call # 929.3 747 1 Scott 198
  • Child Apprentices in America from Christ Church Hospital, London, 1617-1778.
    • Peter Wilson Coldham
    • 929.3 73 Coldh 199
  • Freemen and Apprentices of York.
    • By John Malden
    • 929.3 41 English 1986
  • A Calendar of Southampton apprenticeship records, 1609-1740
    • By Arthur Willis and A.L Merson
    • Call # 929.3 422 76 Willi 1968

 Happy hunting!

Controlling the Chaos

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Exactly how much chaos you are attempting to control will largely depend on how long you have been researching and building your family tree. If you are fairly new to genealogy, then chances are you are utilizing mostly online and other electronic resources. If however, you have been engrossed in filling out your family tree for sometime, you will likely have a mountain of paper records in your collection. Regardless of which category you might fall under, both present their own unique challenges.

Although it’s always a good idea to have hard copies of your family records as back-up, if you are currently using a web application or software package to build your family tree, then you likely have few paper records to contend with. However, if you began your genealogical research back in the days when microfiche was king, and visits to the archive were a must, then paper records you will have, in abundance. Since you are unlikely to trip over or be buried by an avalanche of your electronic records, let’s put these in a desktop folder for the moment and explore how to best manage the paper records in your collection.

No doubt you have already applied some sort of organizational schema to your records. Great, but, will it stand the test of time? If you have documented your family history with the intention of passing it on to future generations, will the manner in which you have organized the collection make sense to others, or will it be akin to a dog’s breakfast? This is where making use of a few recognized archival standards will come in handy. The first one we will look at is arrangement.

There are 5 levels in archival arrangement:

1. Fonds

2. Series

3. Sub-series

4. File

5. Item

Don’t worry too much about file and item as you don’t really need to be this granular when it comes to arranging your own collection. The first three are where we want to focus our attention. If you have ever visited an archive, and being genealogists most of us have, you may have come across the term Fonds. Without getting too technical, a fonds is basically the sum total of all the stuff you have gathered to create your family tree/history. This is your highest level of arrangement. It is also the biggest. No doubt you will have accumulated research materials representing several branches of your family tree. This is where your second level of arrangement comes in; each branch becomes its own series. As we all know, each family branch begets even more branches, enter the sub-series. If you applied this type of arrangement to your own records, it might look something like this:

1. Fonds level: Smith Family History

2. Series Level: Branches

a. Mother’s Family

b. Father’s Family

3. Sub-Series:

a. Maternal Grandparents

b. Paternal Grandparents

As you can see, archival arrangement lends itself quite well to the organization of your genealogical records. If you have developed an organizational method that has worked particularly well for you, please feel free to share.

Next week, we will take a look at archival description, the road map to your collection.

Archival Advice

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

We are introducing a new category to the OGS blog: Archival Advice. This is where you will be able to find advice and tips on how to manage your family history collection. And yes, from an actual Archivist! Watch for the first post, Family Records: Controlling the Chaos, over the next few days.

Profession or Trade: Researching your ancestors’ working past

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Over the next few weeks, we are going to take a look at the various resources in our collection that will assist you in determining just exactly what your ancestors did for a living. For many of us, this will be a fairly straight forward exercise, particularly if farmers, blacksmiths and shop keepers populate your family tree. But what if you come across some one that was listed as an Ale-Conner in the 1861 or 1871 Canadian census? According to this handy online resource, Ancestral Occupations, an Ale-Conner is basically an “official who tests the quality and measure of ale served in public houses.”  This was probably not your first guess, right?

If you really want to delve into your family’s working past, our library collection contains a wealth of information that will assist you in researching this topic. Here are just a few to get you started

  • Researching Local Craftsmen and Industries
    • Elizabeth Quance
    • Call # 929.3 713 016 Quan 1984
  • Occupational Resources for Genealogists
    • Stuart Raymond
    • Call # 929.3 41 016 Raymo 1992
  • Trades and Occupations shown on rubbings of English Monumental Brasses from the 14th to 18th Century
    •  Jane Plante
    • Call # 929.3 42 Plant 1976
  • An Introduction to……:Occupations, a preliminary list
    • Joyce Culling
    • Call # 929.3 42 03 Culli 1999
  • Yorkshire Occupations: A genealogical guide
    • Stuart Raymond
    • Call # 929.3 428 016 Raymon 2000

For a full listing of all titles in this category please check our catalogue.  Next week’s Professions topic: Apprenticeships.