52 Ancestors: Week 6 – Digging Deeper

This week\’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks blogging prompt is \”Surprise\”. We all know about the big genealogy sites such as Ancestry, Family Search, My Heritage, Find My Past, and Library and Archives Canada (LAC). But where else can you look?  What I\’m going to focus on this week is some of the lessor known ways to find unexpected information on your Canadian ancestors. By doing a little digging, you can find some real gems.

GenWebs 
These genealogy web sites are volunteer run and cover particular areas of research. They are a great places to find information and helpful links. A lot of these are hosted through RootsWeb. Thankfully, RootsWeb seems to up and running again for most of their sites. I\’m just putting the provincial and territorial ones here, as they usually provide links to the smaller county/township/parish GenWebs on their sites.
Photos
I love old photos. You\’d be surprised what you can learn from them. Of course the best way to find photos is through family, friends, and genealogy cousins. However, that\’s not the only place:
  • eBay always has a selection of vintage photos for sale
  • Antique Shops have photos galore. Do a Google search of shops in your desired area. Some are lucky enough to have websites, but many do not. However you can still find contact information. 
  • Pinterest has great old photos of people and places.
  • Check the photo collections on Museum and Archives websites. You may find an ancestor.
Books and Published Works
Not all of us are going to have books written about our ancestors. For the vast majority of us, our ancestors weren\’t famous or held positions that would warrant them being mentioned. Local history books can give us a feel of what our ancestors\’ life was like though. Need a \”how to\” book? With the ease of self publishing, there\’s a most likely a book out there for it. Looking for cemetery transcriptions? Church records? Transcriptions are not infallible, but if you\’re researching from a distance, they can be a huge help to your research. 
  • Genealogical Societies, Family History Societies, and Museums. We know about the big provincial ones. But try using Google to find smaller ones. They might not have a website but you should be able to find contact information at the very least. The trick is to go deeper into Google\’s search results. By typing in \”Moncton Genealogy Society\” I found on page 3 of the results the Lutz Mountain Heritage Museum and Genealogical Research Facility. They focus on Pennsylvania Germans who came and settled in that area of New Brunswick, and have books on local history and genealogy.
  • Internet Archive. City Directories, local history books, telephone directories, pamphlets , and brochures are just some of the surprising things you\’ll find on there. Be creative with your searching though. Try using different key words and phrases.
  • Global Genealogy is the go-to place for Canadian genealogy and history books. They are constantly adding new titles, so if you can\’t find what you\’re looking for, keep checking back. I could do a whole blog post on what they have for sale.
  • Google Books. The trick to finding free to read ones is to check the publishing date, to see if copyright has expired. Even if it hasn\’t expired, Google Books will show you where to find a copy
  • Amazon. You never know what you\’ll find. I typed in \”Fort St. John\” and among the results was a book called Doig and Lansdowne Jounals. The book tells about a teacher in Indian Day Schools in the 1950\’s in both Northern Ontario and Northern BC, using his letters and journals. A preview of the book shows it also has photographs. 
  • Indigo Books. A Canadian book store chain. A search of \”Manitoba Genealogy\” gave me the book River Road: Essays on Manitoba and Prairie History.
Social Media
It\’s become a requirement in genealogy circles to have a presence on at least one form of social media. 
  • Facebook is huge for genealogy. I myself have found several distant cousins through Facebook. Gail Dever over at Genealogy a la Carte has compiled an extensive list of Canadian Genealogy Facebook pages and groups. 
  • Twitter is also big. Search twitter by using the location and \”genealogy\” or \”history\” to find the twitter accounts of genealogists, societies, museums and archives. Then see who they follow.
  • YouTube. Lectures, History and Genealogy Shows, How To Videos.
  • Pinterest. There\’s a growing genealogy community on here. Not only is it great to organize your own genealogy, but don\’t forget to look at what other people have \”pinned\”.

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