Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Emigration and the Single Woman

@RTÉArchives is a very interesting twitter account to follow to learn about Ireland over the last 50 years. Last week, they tweeted about a 1995 Radharc documentary called Emigration and the Single Woman. This clip discussed the Mission of Our Lady of the Rosary for the Protection of the Irish Immigrant Girls that existed in New York City in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The records of this organizations are digitized and available for free online. They were quietly released in March 2014, of which you can read more about in my post from when they went online. Researching in them is a must if you have female immigrants from Ireland who came to New York during that time period.

Emigration and the Single Woman, from Radharc via RTÉ Archives.

Click here or here to read Townland of Origin posts about how other Radharc documentaries can help with genealogy. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The New Catholic Parish Registers Website And Ne Temere

Unless you have been under a rock for the last two weeks, you will know all about The National Library of Ireland's brand new website for Catholic parish registers. Simply put, it's a joy to use. There has been plenty of coverage all about it so there is no need for me to rehash it all. So what can researchers in the U.S. and Canada get from the website? Well, the most obvious benefit is free, unlimited access to digitized images of the registers. That's a no brainer.

Beyond that, there are some other benefits that will be of particular use to researchers who are tracing immigrant Irish ancestors. Genealogy research is all about trying to get original records, or if that is not possible, a photocopy, picture, or digital scan of the record; it allows a researcher to see all that has been written on the document. This includes all the necessary information needed to create the document and any possible notations, later amendments or commentary that has been added by the record creator or another party. Having access to digital scans of the Catholic register microfilms allows a researcher to do this.

This ability can be very useful when we consider the possibility of Ne Temere positively impacting on our research. Ne Temere was a decree of Catholic matrimonial law in relation to marriage, with one part stipulating that all marriages must be registered in the place or places where the contracting parties were baptized.[1] With Ne Temere coming into force in 1908, conceivably, it can be expected that such register amendments will be found from about 1848 to 1890, if a person who is born in Ireland gets married in the U.S./Canada between the ages of 18 and 60.

Some examples of this are evident in the registers. The following entry is found in the baptismal registers of Kilmore Erris parish in County Mayo:

Married John Naggius [?] 27 June 1928 in St Paul's Cathedral, Pittsburgh USA
13 [February 1870] Mary Barrett [daughter of] Richard [and] Peg Murphy [from] Cross [townland]; [Sponsors] Tom Barrett [and] Ellen Do [Ditto, therefore Barrett][2]

Another example comes from Keel parish in County Kerry:

15 [Septembris 1878] Idem bapt Juliaus f. leg. Thomas Griffin et
matrimonius _____ est ___ Ioanne Hennessy ____ S. Benan ___ New York ___ 20 Julius 1910
Julia Duggan Sp Ioannes Flynn et Maria McElligott[3]

[15 September 1878; the same, baptism, legitimate daughter of Thomas Griffin
Marriage ____ of __ John Hennessy ____ S. Benan ___ New York ___ 20 July 1910
and Julia Duggan; sponsors John Flynn and Maria McElligott]

With this example, the proof of this later addition can be seen in the index for marriage records from New York City[4]

Other interesting notations that can provide possible clues about immigration to the U.S. are also evident, such as this example, also from Kilmore Erris parish:

16 [December 1860] Wm [?] Dixon [son of] Rodger [and] Bridget Kilcar [from] Tip [? townland]; [Sponsors] Pat Dixon & Mary McDonald[5]

If you come across a relevant entry in the registers, make sure to examine closely around it and elsewhere on the page for such notations and additions.

[1] Galles, Duane. "Roman Catholic Church Records and the Genealogist." National Genealogical Society Quarterly. No. 74 (December 1986). p 272.
[2] Kilmore Erris Parish (Mayo, Ireland), Baptisms 24 June 1860-13 May 1881, unnumbered, p.6, William Dixon, 16 December 1860; digital image, Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI accessed 18 July 2015.
[3] Keel Parish (Kerry, Ireland), Baptisms 1 March 1845-7 November 1880, unnumbered, p.155, Julia Griffin, 15 September 1879; digital image, Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI accessed 18 July 2015.
[4] New York City, NYC Grooms Record Index, Grooms Database 1908-1937, John J Hennessy  and Julia A Griffin, 20 July 1910; index entry, Italian Genealogical Group accessed 18 July 2015.
[5]Kilmore Erris Parish (Mayo, Ireland), Baptisms 24 June 1860-13 May 1881, unnumbered, p.33, Mary Barrett, 13 February 1870; digital image, Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI accessed 18 July 2015.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Tracing The Irish In Missouri

The July/August edition of Irish Lives Remembered magazine is out and in this issue I've written about Irish genealogy research in Missouri. Click here to access this free magazine.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Archives Of Irish America

The Archives of Irish America is a repository of primary research materials at New York University that aims to transform our understanding of the Irish migration experience and the distillation of American Irish ethnicity over the past century.[1] Sometimes, it is not obviously apparent how a university archive collection can help with genealogy, but searching through the catalog can reveal some hidden gems.

The oral history collection contains a large number of interviews with Irish-born immigrants and those who are descendants of Irish immigrants from previous generations. Some of the interviewees from Ireland were born in the 1930s and could possibly give an insightful understanding about coming to America and assimilating in the first half of the 20th century. Places of origin in Ireland and the names of parents and grandparents could also possibly be provided.

The Archives also houses the Gaelic Society of New York Collection and the John T. Ridge Collection, among many others. Both of these collections have documents and information from the 19th and 20th centuries. Many Irish immigrants joined fraternal, cultural, social, and political organizations in the U.S. These collections cans shed light on their involvement in such organizations and possibly provide pertinent genealogical information.

For a full list of the collections, click this link and select Archives of Irish America (AIA) Collection at the top of the page.

[1] New York University. Archives of Irish America. Year Unknown. accessed 7 May 2015.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A New Genealogy Job

Later this month, I will begin working as a genealogist for in Ireland. This, of course, means that my American adventure is coming to an end. It's been a great 5+ years in  New York City and Washington, DC. The buzz around genealogy, both as an industry for those who work in it and as a pastime for those who do family history research, has increased dramatically over that time. I'm still just a relative newcomer when compared to some of the pros who have been in this industry for decades, but the changes I've seen in the last five years alone have been phenomenal. The years ahead promise to be even better and I am really excited to begin working for the ProGenealogists group.  
What does this all mean for Townland of Origin? Well, I absolutely intend to try and continue highlighting records and resources that can help people with their Irish genealogy research in the U.S. and Canada. I have made connections with some great people over the last couple of years because of the website. It's been really great getting to know you all. I hope that some of you have learned about new records, organizations, and groups for your genealogy research.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

NYU Radio Hour Interview

Last March, I did a radio interview with Dr. Miriam Nyhan at the Glucksman Ireland House at New York University. The focus was, of course, genealogy, and we discussed how I got into it, researching the Irish in New York City and the wider U.S., Irish research compared to other ethnicities, and research in Ireland.

This page will bring you to an archive of their shows. The relevant show is March 14th and my interview runs from 30:30 mins - 48:20 mins.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Catholic Order Of Foresters Indexing Project

In January 2014, I wrote about The Irish Ancestral Research Association and highlighted the databases on their site. One database contains information about the records for the Massachusetts Catholic Order of Foresters. This was a fraternal life insurance organization founded in Boston in 1879 by a group of Irish immigrants. Over the ensuing decades, the organization spread throughout the state and by the end of the 19th century there were ninety-five branches throughout Massachusetts.[1]

An archivist from the Joseph P. Healey Library, University of Massachusetts-Boston got in touch to let me know about the efforts that have led to the creation of an online index for this set of records on the library website. This index facility includes more search parameters and also contains the most recent versions of the indexing efforts, a project that is still ongoing. Records for the Foresters, which are housed at the library, are available through 1942, with the index currently covering the years up to 1935.

Read more about the Catholic Order of Foresters, access the indexing project database, and learn where to write to for copies of the records by clicking here.

[1] TIARA. Tiara Foresters Project. 2011. accessed 16 December 2013.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Prince Edward Island Data Pages

Rootsweb houses many fascinating pages researched and developed by volunteer genealogists. A useful one for those with Irish ancestors on Prince Edward Island (PEI) is the Prince Edward Island Data Pages. This database is a compilation of some records of Irish immigrants to PEI from before 1846.

In all, there are about 1,000 entries. The compiler, Marge Reid, advises that when using the database, “the documentation on the four data pages of the PEI IRISH PROJECT is shoddy. (There are OTHER words that could be used to describe the sourcing, but I wouldn't want to offend anyone!) Use the data as a "finding aid" or a "kick-start", but remember - it's only worth what you've paid for it...”[1] It’s useful advice as we should always try and get from an online database or transcription to a copy of the original record. Some local knowledge will definitely be useful when using this database as the compiler uses abbreviations for sources and local place names.

A considerable amount of the database entries give an Irish county of origin. For example, an obituary (from an unknown, undated newspapers) for Bridget Regan gives the information that she was from Sligo and emigrated in 1844. Her husband was John Butler and she (presumably) lived in Ch’town (Charlottetown). The dates 1825-1900 are also provided, possibly her year of birth and death.[2]

[1] Marge Reid. Prince Edward Island Data Pages. 25 January 1999. accessed 11 May 2015.
[2] “IRISH-BORN in PEI before 1846”, database,
( accessed 11 May 2015), entry for Bridget Regan, date unknown; QUINN through WYNN, p. 4.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Chronicling America Newspaper Database

Chronicling America is a website providing access to information about historic newspapers and select digitized newspaper pages, and is produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). NDNP is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress .[1]

In total, almost 9.5 million pages of digitized newspapers are currently available view. One of the most useful features on the website is the US Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present. This database contains information for over 153,000 newspapers that were published in the U.S. since the 17th century. You can use many different filter options to search the database, one of which is ethnicity. Using the ‘Irish’ option gives a return of 127 titles. The majority of the titles are from the state of New York, however, in total, newspapers from 16 states are listed. They are:

Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia

The span of years and cities they cover range from the brief to the broad. Some interesting examples include:

The Irish Pennsylvanian (Pittsburg, PA), 1890-1921
The Northwestern Standard (Minneapolis, MN), 1885-1886
The A.O.H. Journal (Richmond, VA), 1878-1881

Just one of these 127 newspapers is digitized and available to view on the website. It is the Kentucky Irish American and you can search editions from 1898-1921.

You can read other blog posts about newspapers relevant to Irish genealogy research by selecting the ‘newspaper’ label at the end of this post.

[1] About Chronicling America. Year Unknown. accessed 5 May 2015.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tracing The Irish In Minnesota

The May/June edition of the free genealogy magazine Irish Lives Remembered is available to read. In this edition, I wrote about Tracing the Irish in Minnesota (pp. 36-37).

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

County Clare Records From The U.S.

Over the last number of years there has been an awaking in Ireland in relation to researching the lives of the millions of people who emigrated over the last number of centuries. Some of the best research in this area is being carried by historians such as Damian Shiels and Dr. Ciaran Reilly. The Ireland Reaching Out (XO) organizations was also set up to focus on the idea of 'reverse genealogy' - harvesting the local knowledge in Ireland about those who emigrated so as to connect with their descendants all over the world.

At a local level, the Clare County Library is leading the way with their efforts to provide transcriptions of genealogy records that concern emigrants from Clare. Some of the collections they have made available included:

Those who immigrated to the U.S. through Ellis Island, divided by parish of origin (55+ parishes).

Those who naturalized in various New England states (almost 600 records)

Those who applied for U.S. passports (39 records)

Those who arrived in the U.S. through Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, and California (150+ records)

Have family stories been passed down to you about your ancestors possibly being from Co. Clare? Are you researching ancestors with names that are often found in the county, such as Hickey, McNamara, (O') Dea, Kett, Thynne, or Hehir? If so you might find some joy in these records.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Immigrants At Grosse Île Quarantine Station, 1832-1937

The Library and Archives Canada website has a database that contains over 33,000 records for immigrants who stayed, were born, married, or were buried at the Grosse Île Quarantine Station between 1832 and 1937. The quarantine station at Grosse Île is infamous for the thousands of Irish people who died there during the Famine years. However, it has a much longer history and was first used as a quarantine station in 1832.

Grosse Île Quarantine Station was located in the St. Lawrence River and acted as a pre-immigration stopping point near Quebec. This collection of records was compiled by Parks Canada and comes from many different sources, including:

Baptisms recorded at the Grosse Île Quarantine Station
Births that occurred at sea
Burials recorded at the Grosse Île Quarantine Station
Deaths that occurred at sea
Hospital Registers
Inventory of belongings of deceased people
List of tenants of Major Denis Mahon, landlord of County Roscommon in Ireland
Marriages recorded at the Grosse Île Quarantine Station
Names recorded on the Grosse Île Quarantine Station Memorial

Some of the records in this database mention an Irish county of origin. For example, 30 year old Edward O' Reilly died on 30 May 1847 and was from County Fermanagh. He was buried two days later, on the 20th, and was married to Anne Martin.[1]

From a random search of the records, my guess is that less than half have Irish place of origin information. The best chance of getting this information is in the records that were sourced from baptisms, burials, and for tenants from the Mahon estate. Those who are from the Mahon Estate have their townland of origin in County Roscommon listed. For more information about emigrants to Canada from the Mahon Estate, see Dr. Ciaran Reilly's guest post from last November.

You can access the database and information about it by clicking here.

[1] “Immigrants at Grosse Île Quarantine Station, 1832-1937”, database, Library and Archives Canada ( : accessed 28 April 2015), entry for Edward O'Reilly, 30 May 1847; citing Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec, Registre d'état civil, Saint-Luc de Grosse-Ile, 1834-1932, item 694.

Monday, May 4, 2015

U.S. Census Series: Ward 1 Boston 1860

One of the recurring features of this website is the U.S. Census Series, where I highlight the rare instances of Irish place of birth/origin recorded on census documents (access other examples in the Census Series section of the website). This example is probably the most well known: Boston, Ward 1 in the 1860 federal census.

Boston 1865 (Ward 1/North End dark pink color) [1]

The population of Boston at the time of the 1860 census was 177,840.[2] Irish-born people accounted for a large proportion of that count at almost 26%.[3] Ward 1 was the electoral district for the famous North End. Today, this area is known as an Italian American community, but the area was dominated by the Irish from the time of the Famine to about 1880.[4] 

Approximately 3,200 Irish born people in Ward 1 had their county of birth recorded. More than one third of these people were born in Cork, with other significant populations from Galway, Derry/Londonderry, Sligo, and Dublin.

No. of people*
Laois (indexed as Queens)
Offaly (indexed as Kings)
Kerry (some indexed as Carey)
Westmeath (indexed as West Made)
Monaghan (some indexed as Monahan)
Fermanagh (indexed as Fermanna/Fammana)
Tyrone (indexed as Terone) - see comment
County not listed, place is
10 approx

The 1860 federal census can be accessed on websites such as Familysearch (index only), Ancestry, Findmypast, and Fold3.

*Note: numbers are very close approximates as it is difficult to count every single example.

EDIT (5/16/15): The ward boundaries in Boston changed a number of times in the 19th century. The ward boundaries in operation during the 1860 federal census were enacted in 1850. This map is from an 1865 publication and they were changed during that year. However, the map has a date of 1855 in the lower right corner (see link in footnote to view) and the boundaries on this map seem to be congruent with the description of the 1850 boundaries. For more information, read here.

[1] Colton, G.W. 1865. Colton's Map of Boston and Adjacent Cities. New York, NY:  J. H. Colton, No. 172 William St. New York. p.31. Available online;lc:RUMSEY~8~1&mi=6&trs=221# :accessed 25 April 2015
[2] United States Census Bureau. 1860 Fast Facts, 10 Largest Urban Places. 2014. accessed 25 April 2015.
[3] The index gives a figure of 46,026 for the Irish born population.
[4] Goldfeld, Alex R.  The North End: A Brief History of Boston's Oldest Neighborhood. Charleston, SC: History Press. 2009.

Friday, May 1, 2015

National Genealogical Society 2015 Conference Reminder

Last October, I wrote about the NGS 2015 conference, which will be held later this month (13-16 May) in St. Louis, Missouri. (click here for original article and full details). This post is a reminder of the Irish genealogy lectures at the conference. 

There will be five lectures/workshops specifically related to Irish genealogy:

Immigration, Thursday (14th), 4pm
A Methodology for Irish Emigration to North America, David Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA. Lacking a location in Ireland to begin research may necessitate learning to use the sources and methodologies for solving the problem with Irish resources. **Live streaming, see link at the end of article for more details**

Immigration & Migration, Friday (15th), 8am
Navigating the Best Online Sources for Irish Research, Donna Moughty. Think you can’t do Irish research because all of the records burned? Although the 1922 fire was devastating, many surviving records are now available online.

Immigration & Migration, Friday, 9:30am
Unpuzzling Ireland’s Church Records, Donna Moughty. No records or burned records? Navigate through the various religious sources to guide you to the origins of your Irish ancestor.

Immigration & Migration, Friday, 11am
Scots-Irish Research, Robert McLaren. Learn who the Scots-Irish are and are not, how to get started, and good sources for research, both online and elsewhere.

Workshop, Saturday (16th), 8-11am
Workshop on Irish Law Libraries, David Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA S409. This workshop will outline the records available in a law library for conducting Irish research; cover the proper source citation methodologies for citing Irish legal records; outline the available web resources and discuss the major libraries in the US and Ireland, including the Smurfit Collection at St. Louis University Library in St. Louis. Two-hour workshop with additional fee of $25.00.

Some of the lectures will be live streamed, see the conference websites for more details. For a full list of lectures, click here to read the conference brochure.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Delaware Website -

How many of you have started out doing your family history and over time the search morphed into an effort to collect all of the records for a surname/townland/parish etc? If you are one of those people then you will be able to relate to the curators of the website 

In the words of site owner, Joseph M. Lalley: "what began [as] a simple search for our family's ancestors who arrived in Wilmington as early as 1830, soon became a major research project seeking the answer to why the Irish came to Wilmington, Delaware and a search for the locality in Ireland from which they emigrated."[1]

The website has a whole range of transcribed records, with probably the most impressive being their set of Catholic parish registers. The record set was last updated in 2010 but it has almost all baptismal and marriage records for the parishes in the Diocese of Wilmington (Delaware and Maryland) for the years 1795 to 1925. There are also death and cemetery records, federal census entries, and transcribed city directory and passenger list information.

Beyond this, the site has a range of other useful sections, such as links to Delaware website for genealogy and local history.

Access the website by clicking here.  

See a previous post about cemetery records from the Diocese of Wilmington by clicking here.

[1] Lalley, Joseph. Why This Site? 2004. accessed 23 April 2015.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

U.S. Naval Enlistment Records

United States Naval Enlistment Rendezvous, 1855-1891 is a record set that gives an Irish county or town of birth for almost 4,500 Irish immigrants. "A rendezvous was the recruiting station where the men enlisted in the Navy. Officers at the rendezvous kept a record of each man enlisted and reported the information weekly to the Navy Department. These documents are known as the 'weekly returns of rendezvous reports.'"[1] These recruiting stations were located all over the U.S., for example: Mare Island and San Francisco (California); Baltimore (Maryland); Boston (Massachusetts); Saint Louis (Missouri); Portsmouth (New Hampshire); New York (New York); Erie, League Island, and Philadelphia (Pennsylvania); Newport (Rhode Island); Hampton Roads and Norfolk (Virginia).

A lot of useful genealogical information can be found in these records, including: name of naval rendezvous, name of new recruit, date and term of enlistment, rating (rank), name of ship to which assigned, previous naval service, city and state where born, age, occupation, and personal description. For example, in Saint Louis, Missouri, on 29 October 1862, Lawrence Fitzpatrick enlisted as a seaman for general service for the remainder of the Civil War. He was a 33 year old laborer, who was born in Co. Galway. He had brown eyes and hair, a light complexion, and was 5 feet 8 inches tall.[2]

Lawrence Fitzpatrick Enlistment, 1862 (Click to enlarge)

Men from Dublin and Cork make up almost half of this records set, with Donegal, Derry/Londonderry, Galway, Limerick, Tipperary, and Waterford all having strong representations.

No. of records*
County not specified, place is
50 (approx)

These records are available on a number of the main genealogy websites including Ancestry, Findmypast, and Familysearch. Familysearch has digitized and indexed the records. In total the collection contains over 262,000 records. About 46,000 are for men from Ireland, which means that just under 10% have a specific place of birth in Ireland named on their record.

*Note: numbers are very close approximates as it is difficult to count every single example.

[1] United States Naval Enlistment Rendezvous (FamilySearch Historical Records). 2015. accessed 21 April 2015.
[2] "United States Naval Enlistment Rendezvous, 1855-1891," index and images, FamilySearch ( accessed 21 April 2015), Lawrence Fitzpatrick, Nov 1862; citing p. 478, volume 22, place of enlistment Saint Louis Missouri, NARA microfilm publication M1953 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 19; FHL microfilm 2,381,636.