Thursday, September 18, 2014

Irish Emigration Database On DIPPAM IV: Immigrant Ship Information

Read the first parts of this series by clicking part 1, part 2 & part 3, or scroll down if on the homepage.

To review: DIPPAM (Documenting Ireland: People, Parliament, and Migration) is an online virtual archive of documents and sources relating to the history of Ireland, and its migration experience from the late 18th to the 20th centuries. In this series I am focusing on one part of DIPPAM, the Irish Emigration Database (IED).

Beginning February 1756, information from newspapers about ships that sailed to North America is available to consult in the IED. The vast majority of entries are made up of transcriptions of short articles that focus on the journey of the ship. Information usually includes the name of the ship, port of embarkation, and where the ship is going to/port of arrival. The date of departure can be worked out from the date of the newspaper article. Lengthier articles usually mean that something out of the ordinary happened, such as the ship getting into difficulty at sea.

If you have been able to find the ship on which you Irish ancestor(s) arrived in North America, then you might be able to find more information from a simple name search for the ship. For example, this article discuses those about to embark on the Charles Kerr in 1838. The ship left from Limerick port and the majority of passenger were from County Clare.[1]

The vast majority of passenger lists from before 1892 for those traveling to North America do not give a place of origin beyond, say, Ireland. Searching for the name of your ancestors ship in the IED is one tool that can be used to potentially solve this problem.


[1] DIPPAM. Emigrants from Clare, Limerick and Tipperary.  http://www.dippam.ac.uk/ied/records/28216: accessed 20 August 2014. Document ID 9310379. Originally from The Belfast News Letter, August 24th, 1838.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Irish Emigration Database On DIPPAM III: Named Relationships

Read the first parts of this series by clicking part 1 & part 2, or scroll down if on the homepage.

To review: DIPPAM (Documenting Ireland: People, Parliament, and Migration) is an online virtual archive of documents and sources relating to the history of Ireland, and its migration experience from the late 18th to the 20th centuries. In this series I am focusing on one part of DIPPAM, the Irish Emigration Database (IED).

The writing of letters was an important way for families to keep in touch when they lived on opposite sides of the Atlantic ocean. Those who were literate could avail of the opportunity and those who were illiterate might engage the services of someone who could read and write. The IED contains transcriptions of hundreds of such trans-Atlantic letters.

When doing research on Irish immigrants, one might presume that if their ancestors were from a low socio-economic status, then they could not write and this might not be an avenue of research worth exploring. However, due to chain migration in Ireland, and Irish people from the same part of Ireland settling in the same part of the U.S., information in such letters can often go beyond the direct family members.

For example, this letter was written by William Heatley to his sister, Mary, in 1851.[1] William was living in Wexford Landing, Iowa, and wrote to his sister telling all about setting up in the area. In passing, he twice mentions a Fr. Hore, presumably a Catholic priest. Further research shows that Fr. Hore lead a substantial delegation of Catholics from Wexford, Ireland to America in the early 1850s.[2] Many of them traveled on the Ticonderoga to New Orleans.[3] They then sailed up the Mississippi until they found their new land in Allamakee county, Iowa. A transcribed listing of passengers shows a number of Heatleys in the traveling party, along with other people mentioned in the letter, such as Christina (presumably Christine Heatley on the passenger listing), Charles Redmond, and Mary Fennell.[4]

This one letter, tied in with local history research in Iowa and passenger list information from the port of New Orleans, instantly opens up a broad range of research possibilities for both descendants of the letter writer and those who settled in the new Wexford colony.




[1] DIPPAM. William Heatley, [Iowa?] to Mary Quinnn, Wicklow.  http://www.dippam.ac.uk/ied/records/45271: accessed 19 August 2014. Document ID 9809171. Donated by Jim Rees, original at Ulster-American Folk Park.
[2] Hancock, Ellery M. Past and Present of Allamakee County, Iowa. Chicago: SJ Clarke Publishing. 1913. p.266.
[3] Murphy, Hillary. From Wexford Ireland to Wexford Iowa. Irish Family History. 1987. Vol. 3. Extracts available online at http://www.celticcousins.net/irishiniowa/wexfordia.htm: accessed 19 August 2014.
[4] Rees, Jim. A Farewell to Famine. Arklow: Arklow Enterprise Center. 1994. Extracts available online at http://www.celticcousins.net/irishiniowa/wexfordia.htm: accessed 19 August 2014.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Irish Emigration Database On DIPPAM II: Place Of Origin Information

Read part one of this series by clicking here, or scroll down if on the homepage.

To review: DIPPAM (Documenting Ireland: People, Parliament, and Migration) is an online virtual archive of documents and sources relating to the history of Ireland, and its migration experience from the late 18th to the 20th centuries. In this series I am focusing on one part of DIPPAM, the Irish Emigration Database (IED).

Examples of Irish place of origin information can be found in many types of documents on the IED, across the 18th and 19th centuries.  As all the information in the IED has been transcribed, a researcher can quickly enter the names and places that are of interest to their research. Many of the transcriptions contain a modern fixed spelling of  a word in parenthesis beside the original, or a full spelling of an abbreviation, for example Pensylvania [Pennsylvania?][1] and Anthony McClean, near Letter Kenny,[Letterkenny,?] Co. Don.[Donegal?][2]. This can help with searching the database, but as with all transcribed records, caution should be taken and, if possible, the original viewed to get all possible information from the document.


Screen shot of a entry in the DIPPAM Irish Emigration Database

Three examples, from across the centuries show the potential in this database. Firstly, this newspaper article from 1762 discusses the findings of a group of men who inspected land in Nova Scotia, Canada. Seventeen Irish immigrants are listed, along with where they are from in Donegal, Antrim, and Derry/Londonderry.[3]Another example is the reporting of deaths of Irish emigrants, of which there are hundreds. In this short notice, the death of a Fermanagh man in Canada in 1835 is reported in the local newspaper in Ireland.[4] Lastly, 1897 probate information for a Tipperary woman who died in California mentions where she came from in the county and the name of her sister.[5]



[1] DIPPAM. Declaration of Committee of Immigrants to Nova Scotia.  http://www.dippam.ac.uk/ied/records/28069: accessed 20 August 2014. Document ID 305015. Originally from The Belfast Newsletter, 11 March, 1762.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] DIPPAM. Death notice of Michael Graham, Monaghan, Upper Canada.  http://www.dippam.ac.uk/ied/records/51766: accessed 20 August 2014. Document ID 9408370. Originally from The Enniskillen Chronicle, Thursday, November 5, 1835.
[5] DIPPAM. Estate and Effects of Mary Treacy.  http://www.dippam.ac.uk/ied/records/53220: accessed 20 August 2014. Document ID 9410121. Originally from Estate and Effects of Mary Treacy at Public Records Office of Northern Ireland.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Upcoming New York Talks - Manhattan & Long Island

On Saturday, September 20th, I will be visiting the Irish Family History Forum to give two talks: Finding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City and Advanced Irish Genealogy: Delving Further into Irish Sources.

When I first moved to the U.S. in 2010, I was delighted to find such a large and active Irish genealogy group near New York City. Before relocating, I always tried to make it out to their monthly meetings to hear their expert speaker, share some Irish genealogy news, and learn some piece of info about the Irish in America.

If you can't make that date, I'll be back in the New York area in October. On Saturday the 18th, I'll be speaking at the Genealogy Event. This is on at the National Archives and Records Administration, Bowling Green, Manhattan. It's a three day event, beginning on the Friday. My talk is one of the advanced sessions and is on in Meeting Room 1, from 11:00am to 12:30pm.

Advanced Irish Genealogy: Delving Further into Irish Sources
Irish genealogy has a reputation for being difficult. When a researcher begins to grapple with sources in Ireland, they focus on census, vital (birth, marriage, death), parish register, tax, and criminal/legal records. But what is available when these sources have been exhausted? Are there other records to conducted research in or did the infamous Civil War explosion and fire in 1922 take care of all that?

This advance Irish genealogy talk will outline what other records are available and where you can find them, both online and in an archive. If you have not heard about the Reproductive Loan Funds, Canceled Land Books, Chief Secretary's Office Registered Papers, or George Bassett's county directories, then this talk is for you. 

Finding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City
The millions of Irish who came to New York in the 19th century did not make it easy for their descendants to find where they came from in Ireland. If you have already combed through federal and state census records, searched the birth, marriage and death certificates, written away for Church records, and scrutinized the city directories, then this talk is for you.  The talk will firstly cover a number of strategies for tracing Irish ancestors in and around the city. The importance of having a knowledge of social and economic conditions in Ireland before an emigrant left will be discussed. Underutilized record sets that could yield a relevant name, location in Ireland, or pertinent genealogical information will also be outlined. The last section of the talk will be given over to something crucial to all those with Irish ancestors: the numerous record sets and publications that definitively give an Irish place of origin. 

Saturday, 20 SeptemberFinding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City AND Advanced Irish Genealogy: Delving Further into Irish Sources. Hosted by Irish Family History Forum. Venue: Bethpage Library, 47 Powell Ave., Bethpage, NY 11714, USA. 10:00am - 12:30pm. Free, no booking required. 

Saturday, 18 OctoberFinding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City. The Genealogy Event. Venue: NARA, Alexander Hamilton US Custom House, 1 Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004, USA. 11:00am - 12:30pm. Ticket Purchase required.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Irish Emigration Database On DIPPAM I

In a series of posts over the coming weeks, I am going to focus on a part of the DIPPAM (Documenting Ireland: People, Parliament, and Migration) project at Queens University, Belfast. DIPPAM is "an online virtual archive of documents and sources relating to the history of Ireland, and its migration experience from the late 18th to the 20th centuries."[1] It currently consists of three collections: Enhanced British Parliamentary Papers on Ireland (EPPI), the Irish Emigration Database (IED), and Voices of Migration and Return (VMR). The IED will be the focus of these posts.

At the time of writing, there are currently in excess of 33,000 documents in the IED and they can be divided into three broad categories. Documents created by private individuals (e.g. letters, diaries, and journals written by migrants), newspaper material, and official/government papers made up of reports, statistics, and parliamentary debates, all concerning emigration.



Documents in the IED cover the period 1700-1950, with three quarters of the information in the database from the 1820 to 1920 period. Materials from all thirty-two counties in Ireland, the U.S., and Canada are to be found in the database. Overall, the majority of sources supplied to the database creators concern the province of Ulster.[2]

So what kind of genealogical information can be gleaned from all these documents for those researching from this side of the Atlantic? My analysis of this database leads to the answer of Irish place of origin information, named relationships between emigrant and family members in Ireland, and information about ships on which emigrants traveled. I will outline examples of each of these three aspects between now and mid-September.



[1] Queens University Belfast. DIPPAM - Documenting Documenting Ireland: People, Parliament, and Migration. 2012. http://www.dippam.ac.uk: accessed 16 August 2014
[2] Queens University Belfast. IED Archive Guide. 2012. http://www.dippam.ac.uk: accessed 16 August 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014

County Derry/Londonderry Emigration List, 1834-1836

In the 1820s, the British Parliament hatched an ambitious plan to survey the whole of Ireland. Along with the maps, memoirs were to be created which would be written descriptions to accompany the maps. The memoirs were to include information about such aspects as natural features of the land, modern and ancient topography, occupations, religion, emigration, and habits of the people. Sadly, the plan was not realized for the whole of Ireland.[1] 

But the hoped for incredible level of detail was collected for the first two counties surveyed, Derry and Antrim. In particular, this included lists of people who emigrated, where they went to, and what townland they were from.

A listing of emigrants from four (civil) parishes in County Derry is freely available on the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) website. Emigration Lists of Various County Londonderry Parishes was compiled by Dr. D.A. Chart from documents at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. He presented the document to LAC around 1935. 

Section from Emigration Lists of Various County Londonderry Parishes

In total it comprises 52 pages and lists hundreds of emigrants. Information includes: name of emigrant, year of emigration, port of arrival, age, religion, and townland of origin. Emigrants are listed traveling to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Quebec, and St. John's. Place such as Scotland, Liverpool, and Jamaica are also listed.

It is a truly outstanding resource and is freely available in pdf format to consult and download. Access it here.

The Ordnance Survey memoirs for various Irish counties are available to purchase on the Ulster Historical Foundation website.

Brian Mitchell, a prominent Derry based genealogist, has published the listing of emigrants from both Derry and Antrim in his book, Irish Emigration Lists, 1833-1839.




[1] Public Records Office of Northern Ireland. Year Unknown.  Local History 3: Ordnance Survey Memoirs. http://www.proni.gov.uk/no.3_-_ordnance_survey_memoirs__52kb_.pdf: accessed 12 August 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

Kansas City Irish Fest Genealogy

I'd like to give a shout out to Barbara Scanlon and the folks who will be providing a free genealogy advisory service at the Kansas City Irish Fest, starting today at 5pm and running all weekend (Sat and Sun 11am-11pm, both days).


You can get all the relevant information at this link, where they have also posted a useful resource list.

It you can't make it to the festival, there is a genealogy advisory service at the Kansas City Irish Center. To learn more about this service, consult the Missouri section of the Groups/Societies/Institutions database on this website by clicking here.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Going Beyond US WDYTYA II

My previous post about Irish themed Who Do You Think You Are episodes outside the US has lead to an unearthing of some more episodes on YouTube. Tonight, the episode from British WDYTYA is about Brendan O'Carroll, a "comedian" from Ireland (4pm Eastern). See the Kerry O'Brien instructions, below, for how you might watch this episode.

Alistar McGowan**         UK version           
Did not research in Ireland (focus on Irish ancestry is in the last few minutes of episode): Part 1, Part 2

Jeremy Irons*                   UK                            
Dublin Down

Barbara Windsor**         UK                           
Cork:  Part 1, Part 2

Kerry O'Brien                   Australia               
Could not find video of episode. WDYTYA is aired on the SBS network/channel in Australia. If you are outside Australia, you might try something like, ahem, this, and view them on the SBS On Demand page (BBC iPlayer for the above mentioned Brendan O'Carroll episode).

Jack Thompson                 Australia              
Same as above

Thanks to shanew* and P. Breathnach** on the Boards.ie genealogy forum for providing information about some of these episodes.

UPDATE (1 September) : Thanks goes out to Lisa Walsh Dougherty—who has previously written two posts on Townland of Origin (here and here)—for highlighting that episodes from the current season of UK WDYTYA are available to watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAOxTeGCCxiZTZRM8eyClCA.
This includes the Julie Walters (Mayo) and Brendan O'Carroll (Dublin) episodes.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

One Year Old Today

Townland of Origin was launched exactly one year ago today. With that in mind, I'd like to offer a reminder of what this blog is all about:

The primary focus of this blog is Irish genealogical research in North America. It is hoped that the posts will assist researchers in the hunt for their ancestors townland of origin in Ireland.

I try and do this in two main ways: firstly, by highlighting sources that contain the place of origin for Irish immigrants, and secondly, by writing about sources that can help get you a step closer to finding your townland of origin. This has been the theoretical principle that has guided my genealogy research over the last couple of years, and especially since I decided to write my first genealogy guidebook, Finding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City.

Being an Irish-born person in the North American genealogy community has been an interesting experience over the last few years. I have the luxury of knowing where my ancestors came from as I grew up with their stories and heard them in houses in those townlands. I didn't have to go searching in naturalization records, obituaries, and cemeteries for that elusive piece of information. Through Townland of Origin, the previous 125 articles have tried to help people find where they came from in Ireland in those same records, and more. So, if this blog has helped you with your research I'd love to hear about it, in a comment below.

To celebrate, I've created an  infographic with all the Townland of Origin facts and figures from the first year. Plenty more posts to write....


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Banking With The Emigrant Savings Bank

The Emigrant Savings Bank records are one of the main genealogical resources for tracing Irish ancestors in New York City in the second half of the 19th century. You can learn more about this resource and how it can help your New York City Irish research in my book, Finding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City.

The image below reputes to show people in the bank, busy depositing and withdrawing money from their accounts. The caption reads: "Irish depositors of the Emigrant Savings Bank withdrawing money to send to their suffering relatives in the old country".


The picture comes from p. 29 of an 1880 edition of Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, v. 50, no. 1275 (March 13) and was published in the run-up to St. Patrick's Day.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Chicago Area Naturalizations 1871-1929

Chicago is one of the big four Irish-American cities, along with New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. The city is located in Cook County and the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court oversees administration for that court system. In the 19th and 20th centuries, hundreds and thousands of people went through the naturalization process at their various courts.

Their website has an index of naturalization records from the late 1800s and early 1900s, as "the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Archives is home to more than 500,000 naturalization petitions covering the years 1871[1] to 1929. More than 400,000 of these records are Declarations of Intention, 1906-1929, which were usually the first papers to be filed by those who wished to become U.S. citizens."[2]





This index is currently a work in progress but it is already showing tremendous promise for those looking for the Irish place of origin for their Chicago-area ancestors of this era. Currently, there are almost 7,500 index entries that list the county of origin for applicants. These numbers come from just six Irish counties: Clare, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Limerick, and Mayo. What is even better is that many of the index entries give details about what part of the county the applicant was born in. Overall, the index provides valuable information: name, birth date, birth town (this is where Irish place and county are to be found), birth country, and occupation.

It is useful to remember that someone did not have to live in Cook County, IL to declare their intent to naturalize. An immigrant could do so at any court. Therefore, don't discount those ancestors who lived in counties and areas around Cook County/Chicago.

You can access the database by clicking here.

If you find a relevant entry in the index you can apply for the declaration of intention via the application form at this link.

Number of records per county (as of July 2014)
Clare - 979
Cork - 753
Galway - 841
Kerry - 1261
Limerick - 986
Mayo - 2657

Total - 7477


[1] All records before 1871 were destroyed in the fire of that year.
[2] Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court. About the Collection. 2014. http://www.cookcountyclerkofcourt.org/nr/about.aspx: accessed 29 July 2014.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Density & Proportion Of Irish In U.S. 1900

This selection from the David Rumsey map website collates two types of statistical data from the 1900 U.S. federal census. Firstly, there is the 'density of natives of Ireland' (see below), with the number of Irish born people per square mile mapped.

Density of Natives of Ireland 1900

Secondly, there is the 'proportion of natives of Ireland to total population', where the darker colors on the map represent a higher proportion of Irish-born people.

You can view both maps at this link.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Friendly Son's of Philly

List of Members of the Hibernian Society for the Relief of Emigrants from Ireland......[1] contains a listing of members of fraternal Irish societies in Philadelphia in the 18th and 19th centuries. Primarily, there is the Friendly Sons of St Patrick, founded in 1771. This organization is still in existence today and you can find more information about it at www.friendlysons.com. The Friendly Sons has had other sub-groups throughout it's existence, such as the Hibernian Society for the Relief of Emigrants from Ireland.


The publication is divided into various listings:

p. 5 Presidents, Secretaries, and Treasurers, Friendly Sons of St. Patrick (names and year elected)
p. 6 Presidents, Secretaries, and Treasurers, Hibernian Society (names and year elected)
p. 8 Members, Friendly Sons of St. Patrick (names and year elected)
p. 10 Honorary Members, Friendly Sons of St. Patrick (names and year elected)
p. 11 Members of the Hibernian Society for the Relief of Emigrants from Ireland (names and year elected)
p. 31 Present Members of the Hibernian Society, 31 March, 1884 (names and addresses)





[1] Author Unknown. List of Members of the Hibernian Society for the Relief of Emigrants from Ireland Together with the List of Members of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, 1771-1884. Philadelphia: The Society. 1884.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Celtic Connections Conference

Next week, the Celtic Connections Conference will take place in the LaCava Center at Bentley University, Waltham, MA. Spread over two days (Friday, 15th and Saturday, 16th) the event is co-hosted by The Irish Ancestral Research Association (previously featured on this blog here and here) and the Irish Genealogical Society International. The focus of the conference is Celtic culture, with genealogy a central component.










The lineup of speakers for the event is a veritable who's who of the Irish genealogy world: John Grenham, Brian Donovan, Kyle Betit, Dwight Radford, Donna Moughty, and more. While every talk is worth attending, there are a number that will be of particular interest to those carrying out Irish genealogy research in North America:

Friday, 11:30am-12:30pm, Room 305, Marie Daly, Researching Irish Domestic Servants
Friday, 3:15pm-4:15pm, Danielson Room, Dwight Radford, Leaving Home - Again, The Irish Who Stopped Along the Way

Saturday, 8:45am-9:45am, Room 325, Sheila O'Rourke Northrop, Missing Friends: Migration Patterns from Ireland to North America
Saturday, 11:15am-12:15pm, Room 325, Dwight Radford, Developing an Irish Census Substitute Using Irish and Immigrant Sources
Saturday, 2:00pm - 3:00pm, Room 325, Richard M. Doherty, The Scots Irish: Origins, Emigration, Religion, and Resource Sources

Monday, August 4, 2014

Irish In 19th Century New Brunswick Newspapers

The newspaper database on the New Brunswick Irish portal is made up of a collection of articles from a range of 19th century newspapers from the province. A detailed breakdown of the years of publication is not provided for all papers, but some, such as the Saint John True Liberator was first published in 1847.[1]

New Brunswick Irish Portal Newspapers Database

It does not seem that all articles from all editions of the newspapers are included. Rather, a selection that are most relevant to the history and genealogy of the Irish in the province have been digitized. An unusual but interesting feature of this database is that the selected articles from the newspapers are divided into the following helpful sections:

"Information Wanted" Advertisements
"Reminiscences of New Brunswick"
Affairs and Conditions in Ireland
Agriculture
Assisted Emigration
Cards of Thanks and Commendations
Censuses
Cholera
Conditions in New Brunswick
Confederation and Union of the Colonies
Customs, Exports and Imports
Education
Emigrant Hospital, Almshouse and Lunatic Asylum
Emigrant Societies
Employment and Trades
Illness, Disease and Quarantine
Irish Culture
Juvenile Emigration
Legal Affairs
Miscellaneous
New Brunswick Emigration Office and Emigration Agents
New Brunswick Land Settlement and Colonization
Out-migration
Passage Conditions
Passage Notices and Other Advertisements
Passenger Act
Pauper, Orphan and Emigrant Relief
Physicians and Health Officers
Poetry
Politics
Religious Affairs
Riots
Ship Wrecks and Accidents
Small Pox
Speeches, Debates and Lectures
St. John Board of Health
St. Patrick's Society
The Famine and Irish Relief
The Fenians
Typhus/Ship Fever
Vessel and Emigrant Arrivals
Views on Emigration
Views on the Irish

A quick search of the famous (and unfortunately small number of) 'information wanted' adverts finds articles with priceless genealogical information that can be so hard to find for immigrants from the mid 19th century: year of immigration, names of family members, and exact place of origin in Ireland. Some articles in the "Assisted Emigration" section report on the arrival of the thousands of assisted emigrants from the Gore-Booth estate in Co. Sligo, while there are also articled about societies that operated in the province.

Articles in this database come from the following newspapers:

New Brunswick Courier
New Brunswick Reporter and Fredericton Advertiser
New Brunswick Standard
St. John Liberator Irish Advocate
The Freeman
The Gleaner and Northumberland, Kent, Gloucester and Restigouche Commercial and Agricultural Journal
The Herald
The Morning Freeman
The New Dominion and True Humorist
The New Freeman
The Saint John Gazette and the Weekly Advertiser
The St. John Daily Sun
The Standard or Frontier Agricultural and Commercial Gazette
The True Humorist
The True Liberator
Times

You can access the database by clicking here.

Note - I have previous written about other databases from the New Brunswick Irish Portal: Brenan Funeral Home records, Fitzwilliam Estate Emigration Books, Irish Immigrants in New Brunswick Census 1851 & 1861, and the Teachers Petition Database.


[1] New Brunswick Provincial Archives. Introduction. Year unknown. http://archives.gnb.ca/Irish/Databases/Newspapers/?culture=en-CA: accessed 11 July 2014.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Going Beyond US WDYTYA

Who Do You Think You Are (WDYTYA) is the flagship show for genealogy in the United States. In each episode, the ancestry of a celebrity is explored, with prominent narratives from their family history investigated. It first aired in 2010 and began its fifth season last week.

Those in the U.S. who have Irish ancestry might be disappointed with the relative lack of focus on celebrities with Irish ancestry. In the first four seasons there has been 35 episodes. Four participants had their Irish ancestry partly or fully investigated, with three episodes showing research in Ireland. They are:

Chris O'Donnell  season 4, episode 5         Did not do research in Ireland
Rashida Jones season 3, episode 10           Dublin
Rosie O'Donnell season 2, episode 3         Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow, Offaly 
Martin Sheen      season 3, episode 1         Tipperary, Dublin


This is a small return, considering Irish is the largest ancestry grouping in the U.S. after German. Personally, I think there are two reasons for this. Firstly, it can be difficult to find the Irish place of origin. Other celebrities might have been considered, but their Irish place of origin might not have been found. Secondly, the Irish ancestors of some celebrities might not have been involved in something that was considered worthwhile for a TV show. Leaving a poverty stricken rural part of Ireland, living in a densely crowded tenement and dying of tuberculosis at age forty-five is not exactly going to see audiences flocking to watch the show. This could be called 'Cherie Blair syndrome.'

So, where can you get your fix of Irish genealogy on TV? Well, the US WDYTYA has an older British sister, as the show is also aired in the UK. The UK version is actually the original and has been on TV since 2004. The 11th season will begin in August, starting with a special show to mark its upcoming 100th episode

The close proximity of Ireland to the UK has seen many Irish celebrities move to the bigger British market and many British-born celebrities have Irish parents, grandparents, and other ancestors. So, the UK version can be a great place to get your fix of Irish genealogy TV. Below, I have YouTube links to some of these episodes:

Graham Norton                Cork, Antrim/Belfast, Wicklow
Dervla Kirwan                  Cork, Dublin
Chris Moyles                      Dublin, Mayo
John Hurt                            Sligo
David Tennant                  Derry/Londonderry
Amanda Redman             Cork/Wexford (parts of the episode)
Nick Hewer                        Antrim/Belfast (could not find video of episode)

The Irish Genealogy News blog reports that the upcoming 11th season of the UK WDYTYA will have two Irish-focused episodes. While you may have know about the UK version of the TV show, you might be surprised to learn that there was also an Irish version of Who Do You Think You Are. It broadcast for two season in 2008 and 2009. I managed to find one episode knocking about on YouTube:

Ryan Tubridy                      Galway/Mayo/Dublin


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Freeman's Journal Place Of Origin

igp-web.com (Ireland Genealogy Project Archives) has been one of the most active volunteer Irish genealogy websites for a long time. Each month new transcriptions and pictures of many different types of records are made available, free of change. Some records in last months upload caught my eye as they give the Irish county of origin for immigrants in various American cities.

The transcriptions come from various editions of the Freeman's Journal newspaper, from 1841 to 1845. The cities covered include New York, Boston, Detroit, Newark, and Albany, among others. The newspaper articles contain information about members of organizations and subscribers to funds for various political causes, including the Repeal Association. The Irish county of birth/origin is given for many of the members/subscribers. You can view these names at this link, in the 1840 section.

Digitized 19th century editions of the Freeman's Journal are available on the various subscription FindMyPast websites.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Early San Francisco Newspaper Index

Recently, I came across a very interesting Irish genealogy resource for San Francisco. The Early San Francisco Newspaper Index was created by Thomas and Regina Wrin, descendants of Michael J. Wrin, a prominent businessman who was very active in the forming of Irish societies in early San Francisco.

This "database is an index of over 560,000 listings from San Francisco newspapers, 1849-1927, featuring the activities of Irish San Franciscans in over 2,300 Societies. This is equivalent to 112,000 pages of printed data. Each listing includes: individual's name, publication name, publication date, society involved, a brief summary of the individual's activity which generated a mention in that publication."[1]

Also known as "The Wrindex", this database is currently not available online but there are a number of ways that you can access the information.  Firstly, there is a free name search service available through the Wrindex website. Secondly, you can purchase copies of the index on CD from the same website. Thirdly, the CD's are also available at the United Irish Cultural Center in San Francisco (an organization I have previously profiled on this blog).

It is important to point out that this source is a index. It does not contain original records, or copies of them. Instead, it will allow you to take a very beneficial shortcut in your research and go directly to newspaper articles that contain information about those of interest to your research.

Access The Wrindex website here.


[1] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Family History Library Catalog. 2002.  https://familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titledetails&titleno=1189047&disp=The+early+San+Francisco+newspaper+index : accessed 28 June 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Irish Research In Hartford, Connecticut

I've written before on this blog about how academic research can be very beneficial to genealogists, but can sometimes not be thought of as a potential source of relevant information or records. Therefore, I'd like to take another opportunity to highlight a useful and interesting piece of academic work.

Getting Their Share: Irish and Italian Immigrants in Hartford, Connecticut, 1850-1940 is the PhD thesis of Bruce Alan Clouette. It was submitted in 1992 at the University of Connecticut. A recent publication considers it to be the most definitive work on Irish immigration to Hartford, CT in the mid 19th century.[1]

Works of this magnitude can be particularly useful when they are about just one city, as opposed to the many academic tomes which have focused on the immigration of Irish people to the whole of the U.S. Individually named immigrants, migration patterns from Ireland, settlement patterns in the city, Catholic Church history and many other useful types of genealogical information can be found in the more locally focused publications.

You can read the abstract here.




[1] Xiangming Chen and Nick Bacon. Confronting Urban Legacy : Rediscovering Hartford and New England's Forgotten Cities. Lanham: Lexington Books. 2013. p. 44.

Friday, July 18, 2014

FMP's Irish Death Notices In American Newspapers

Following on from my post about the Findmypast.com (FMP) database, Irish Marriage Notices In American Newspapers (scroll down to read or click here), this post will look at the database Irish Death Notices in American Newspapers. At 35,918, it contains a significantly larger number of records.

According to the FMP website, "each record includes a transcript of a death notice taken from an American newspaper. The amount of information listed can vary, but the Irish death notices usually include the following information about your ancestor: name, death year, place of death, newspaper, cemetery, birth place (emphasis mine), cause of death, death date, parish at death, spouse, parents, other relatives, age, and occupation."[1] The notices come from the following newspapers:

Chicago Citizen (1882-1897)
Chicago Tribune (1847-present)
Illinois State Journal (1848-1947)
New Orleans, Picayune (1837-present)
New York Herald (1835-1924)
The Baltimore Sun (1837-present)
The Brooklyn Eagle (1841-1955)
Phoenix (1859-1861)

Perusing the indexes, it can be seen that two different places often appear in the 'Where - Location' part of the index. Some examples:

Mary Jane Martin died in 1858 and the two places mentioned are Downpatrick (presumably Co. Down) and 9th Avenue & Ave. A (presumably New York City)
Henry Ford died in 1871; Sligo and 9th Avenue & 37th St.
Julia Duffy died in 1870; Dundalk and 99 Vandam St.

Without going through all records in the set, a very rough estimate of the number of death notices that contain an Irish place of birth/origin is somewhere between 30-55%, making it quite a useful database to do research in.


[1] Findmypast.com. Irish Death Notices in American Newspapers. 2014. http://search.findmypast.com/search-world-Records/irish-death-notices-in-american-newspapers : accessed 27 June 2014