Friday, August 19, 2016

Are You Going Local with Your Research?

Regional Peel Archives, Brampton, Ontario, 2016.

With the ever increasing availability of accessing databases and documents online you might think you'll never have to leave your house to research your ancestors. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Most libraries, public institutions and archives have more documents in their holdings than will ever be available on the internet.

Going local with your family history research will likely involve a trip to the municipal or regional archives of your area of interest. Before visiting the archives, there are a few things to do to help you get the most out of your time there.

Plan for Your Visit
Make the most of your time at the archives by checking to see if it has a website. Make note of the days and times when the archives are open. You don't want to arrive at an archive to find that it's closed on the day of your visit. If you're driving, be sure to check about parking availability and if you have to pay. Use your time wisely. Look for online databases on the archives website. These databases can be searched at home before your trip allowing you to use your time more effectively while onsite.

Read Ahead
Not sure how to research land records in that area, or how to access estate records? Some archives have research guides available on their website. Read these ahead of time. You might want to print a copy and bring it with you.

Make a List
Who are you researching? What documents, microfilms, maps, etc. do you want to research while at the archives? Making a list and having a plan will help you make the most of your time there.

Call Ahead
Always call the archives ahead of time. The archives website will likely provide you with information about how early you should contact them about your visit. Some archives require a week's notice to retrieve items not stored onsite. Calling at least two to three days in advance of your visit will allow time for the archivists to retrieve the items in anticipation of your visit. Briefly explain who are researching, where your ancestor was located in the area, and the time frame.

Most archives will require you to register upon arrival, especially if it is your first visit. You'll likely be asked for your name, address, telephone number and email address. You make be given ID card. You'll likely have to sign in upon your arrival and sign out upon leaving. Check to see if you can register online.

Files of local documents, Regional Peel Archives, Brampton, Ontario, 2016.

My recent visit to the Regional Peel Archives in Brampton, Ontario turned out to be a fantastic afternoon of research because I called ahead that morning. It was a spur of the moment visit as I had not originally intended to visit there. However, when I arrived one of the archivists was ready for my visit. He already had some ideas of what items I needed to look at while I was there.

Follow the Rules
You may not be able to bring your bag/purse/backpack into the archives with you. You may not be able to use your laptop or tablet. This is why calling ahead is important. Check with the archivist about what the archives policy is for copying documents and/or taking photographs. Most archives will not allow you to use pens. Be prepared and bring your pencils. Also, bring along a pad of paper or notebook to keep notes.

Be Courteous
Be polite, considerate and courteous. Be brief in explaining what you're researching. The archivist doesn't have time to listen to your lamentations about your family history brick wall. Part of their job is to assist you in finding the documents. They will not do the research for you. Smaller archives will likely have smaller numbers of staff. There may be other patrons the archivist is assisting. Be patient. Be sure to thank the archivist for their help.

Have Fun
By taking the time to plan ahead, your trip to the local archives will likely be educational, productive and enjoyable. [Tweet this]

© Copyright by Kathryn Lake Hogan, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Canadian Records Update for June-July 2016

Horseshoe Falls by Ad Meskens 

The end of June and the beginning of July have brought welcomed news about new record sets and databases for Canadian family history.

New databases released by include:

"Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, Honeymoon and Visitor Registers, 1949-2011." This new database is fantastic for those researching post World War II ancestors and relatives.

Niagara Falls, Ontario is the Honeymoon Capital of the world. Thousands of newlyweds and tourists visit the city every year from South America, Europe, Asia and Australia as well as North America. Many sign their names in the register books at the Niagara Falls Tourism Office. It's these register books that are now available.

It's worthwhile taking a few minutes to enter a surname or two into the database search engine. You might be surprised at what turns up. What's so terrific about these registers is the information requested, and recorded in your ancestor's or relative's actual handwriting. Information included date of visit, name, current address, and place and date of marriage.It's important to know most women in these registers are only known as "Mrs." Try searching with the man's name to get better results. As you move closer in time, women's first names are recorded along with their husband's names.

"Canada, Photographic Albums of Settlement, 1892-1917" is a browsable database of photo albums containing photographs primarily taken by photographers John Woodruff and Horatio N. Topley, who were employed by the Canadian Department of the Interior. These photos will add to your understanding of your migrant and/or immigrant ancestors, especially those who settled in the Prairie Provinces. Although not searchable by name,each photo album contains a table of contents with brief descriptions of the photos.

"Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada, Homestead Grant Registers, 1872-1930" is the searchable database of registers of homesteaders who applied to the Dominion Lands Office for land grants in the Prairie Provinces. You can search by name, date, homestead number and homestead coordinates.

Two updated databases include Biographical Dictionary of Jewry, 1897-1909, and Biographical Dictionary of Jewry, 1909-1914. These are great resources for researching early Canadian Jewish families.

Find My Past is expanding its record sets by including Canadian databases! The first offering is Canada Census 1911. Those of us having Canadian ancestors originally from the UK will appreciate the ease of researching all in one place. I anticipate more Canadian offerings will be released from Find My Past in the months to come.

© Copyright by Kathryn Lake Hogan, 2016. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Updated Ontario Marriages and Deaths at, in partnership with Archives of Ontario, has announced the release of updates to two of its Ontario vital statistic databases.

The official announcement was released on the Archives of Ontario website

Ontario, Deaths, 1869-1938, 1943, and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947
The death registrations for 1943 have been added, and 1944 will be added later this year. However, you'll notice years 1939 through 1942 have yet to be released on 

Ontario, Marriages, 1801-1928, 1933-1934
The years 1933-1934 have been added. However, years 1929 through 1932 are missing.

Of course, the marriage record for my grandparents is 1931 and currently unavailable online.
I telephoned Archives of Ontario and spoke with an archivist. I was told the release of these missing years is dependent on copyright and reaching an agreement with the organizations involved. I was then asked to email the Archives of Ontario in order to get an official response to my enquiry. I have done just that. Although I'm eagerly awaiting a response, it could be up fifteen working days before I hear back from the Archives.

© Copyright by Kathryn Lake Hogan, 2016. All Rights Reserved