Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: Other Names for Paupers

Did you know that paupers were also called collectioners and bearmen/bairmen? The first of these terms is used today, that is, in books written in the late 1990s and the early 2000s about poverty in Britain. However the term bearman or bairman sent me googling with interesting results.

Googling ‘bearman’ found a host of men’s clubs and references to hirsute men. Looking for “bairman” got one hit in a glossary of ‘peculiar words’ in a book called, Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh: AD 1403 -1589. The Extracts includes an alphabetical list of names contained and a list of topics covered in the records of this period. The third and last section is the glossary which defines bairman as an insolvent debtor. This book is downloadable as a PDF from Google Books. There are options for ipads and ereaders as well.
If you are intrigued by the glossary of words from the 15th and 16th century but wish there were indexes to the records of other cities, you will be happy to find that the Extracts are a series which includes Glasgow, Leith, Stirling and others. Edinburgh is Volume 5, first published by Scottish Burgh Records Society in 1892.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: Canadian Museum of Immigration/Pier 21 - O/T

With Ellis Island closed because of damage from last fall’s storm Sandy, I headed to Halifax, Nova Scotia to visit the immigration museum of our northern neighbors. Well more truthfully, I included the museum on my vacation in Atlantic Canada.

My husband was born in Calgary, Alberta so he was enthusiastic about this stop. His grandfather who arrived in Canada at Halifax in 1912 did not enter through the building at Pier 21 which houses this museum. It was not in use until 1928.  
A video of a train journey across Canada to Alberta with comments from people who had taken the trip was mentioned in some of the promotional material. In his family, that trek was taken by his parents and grandparents plus an assortment of other relatives. HOWEVER, the video has changed. Now there are four or five small booths where you can watch oral histories given by people who came in at Pier 21.  The new video was the highlight of our visit, powerfully showing the activities at the pier over its 43 years of use.

Between 1928 and 1971, Pier 21 was a landing point for more than a million immigrants arriving in Canada by ship. The brick immigration center on Pier 21 housed customs and immigration and also a nursery, hospital, dormitories, kitchen and dining hall, as well as a rail connection. There is a small model of the layout in one of the exhibits. In another exhibit, I found a picture of four ships on which members of his family arrived.
During World War II, Pier 21 also served a role for the Canadian Armed Forces as the departure and reentry point for more than half a million troops. After the war, refugees and war brides entered through this building.

Pier 21 is the only surviving immigration pier in Canada and was a historic site before being officially appointed the national Canadian Museum of Immigration in February 2011.
There is a free Scotiabank Family History Centre on the first floor of the museum. (The museum exhibits and multimedia presentation have an entrance fee.) A word about the Family History Center - there are a few computers with www.ancestry.ca. The staff seems very knowledgeable about finding passengers on ships. The person I worked with found a grandfather whose name was very misspelled, and it was fun to watch him use *** and other tricks to tease out the right record. I have to say this is probably not the place for serious research in the other areas of genealogy.

1055 Marginal Road
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4P6
(902) 425-7770 or toll free 1-855-526-4721

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

The Royal Museums Greenwich include among others, the Royal Observatory, the Cutty Sark and the National Maritime Museum (NMM). If you are interested in all things nautical, then the Maritime Museum will amaze you with its collections from both the merchant and royal navies.

The NMM Library, also known as the Caird Library has resources for family researchers. The website is www.rmg.co.uk/library. Before you decide to visit in person, you will want to read a few of its 78 research guides online. From the home page, click ‘researchers,’ then in the right hand column, double click on ‘The Library’ and pick ‘research guides’ from the dropdown menu. 
The number of topics listed is very comprehensive, for example, The Royal Navy, The Merchant Navy, HMS Titanic, Medals, and World War Two. Perhaps starting with guide A3: Tracing Family History from Maritime Records is most sensible. Guide E2 is, World War Two: The Dunkirk List. Let me quote from its first sentence:

"This guide provides an introduction to the official record of Operation Dynamo, the mass evacuation of British troops from France in 1940 during the Second World War, largely carried out by a fleet of 'Little Ships' that sailed from the south coast of England and the Thames Estuary."
Other titles include:

                  B1: The Royal Navy: Tracing People
                 B7: The Royal Navy: Ship Records

                 C1 & C2: The Merchant Navy: Tracing People
If you can visit in person, the Caird Library is open Monday- Friday 10:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and 2:00-4:45 p.m. Admittance is free with a reader’s card that you can order online. In fact, you can use the online catalogs and have the items you want to search waiting for you.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: forces-war-records.co.uk

My post a few weeks ago has inspired me to learn more about researching UK military records. A tiny item in the June 2013 issue of the Norfolk Ancestor, the journal of the Norfolk Family History Society, led me to the ‘forces war record’ site whose URL is in the title of today’s post.

Although a subscription site, there is plenty of useful free information, and the subscription rate is low at £8.95/month. You can search for a person by first name and surname and specify a war or era. Thinking about my timeline of a few weeks ago, I am happy to share this sites categories: Napoleonic, 1799-1815; Early 19th Century, 1815-1853; Crimean, 1853-1856; Victorian Conflicts, 1857-1899; Boer, 1899-1902; WWI; WWII.
Searching World War II records for the surname BRETT, I got a free list of 330 names with rank, year and the unit or ship where the person served. It was fascinating to see that the last category included people marked as “civilian war dead.” There were also names of military personnel serving in foreign units like the Royal Canadian Air Force and the South African Engineer Corp.

There are at least two ways to get to a very complete Military Genealogy Tutorial. The easiest is on the home page, click ‘search’ and then tutorials. Topics include the army, royal navy, and medals.
There is a place to click to perform a free search of medieval records so again I searched for BRETTs. Among others, I found William Le Bret, an archer in 1440. Next to his record was a lengthy explanation of the Hundred Years War. Be sure to try a medieval search because the results come up with the heading, ‘Thy search hath yielded 943 results.’ Too cute!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: PRONI Update

On 12 Sep 2012, I wrote a blog about the two main resources for Northern Irish research, GRONI and PRONI. The first is the General Register Office Northern Ireland, the place to obtain birth, marriage and death certificates. Today I’d like to update information on the second, PRONI (Public Records Office of Northern Ireland).

PRONI has a series of 2-4 page leaflets that give the basics for research in the country and can be downloaded as PDFs from their website. At the time I wrote the earlier blog post, these very helpful publications were almost hidden on the site. Now they are prominently featured.
Go to www.proni.gov.uk. Scroll down on the homepage until you find the question, “What Can I Do at PRONI? Click on the choice ‘Research Local and Family History.’ Under the photo, the first choice is ‘Browse our information leaflets.’ If you click, these are the first ten of the 28 titles in the series:

As you can see, here is comprehensive genealogy information in small bites.

Besides the ‘Family Tree Leaflet’ series, there are series for local history and another for emigration. Print some and take them to the beach!