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.
Friday, August 29, 2014
Thursday, August 28, 2014
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
Barbara Windsor** UK
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.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
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
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 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 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."
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.
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
 All records before 1871 were destroyed in the fire of that year.
 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
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
List of Members of the Hibernian Society for the Relief of Emigrants from Ireland...... 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)
You can view it on the Harvard University Digital Collections website.
 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
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
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.
|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
Cards of Thanks and Commendations
Conditions in New Brunswick
Confederation and Union of the Colonies
Customs, Exports and Imports
Emigrant Hospital, Almshouse and Lunatic Asylum
Employment and Trades
Illness, Disease and Quarantine
New Brunswick Emigration Office and Emigration Agents
New Brunswick Land Settlement and Colonization
Passage Notices and Other Advertisements
Pauper, Orphan and Emigrant Relief
Physicians and Health Officers
Ship Wrecks and Accidents
Speeches, Debates and Lectures
St. John Board of Health
St. Patrick's Society
The Famine and Irish Relief
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 Gleaner and Northumberland, Kent, Gloucester and Restigouche Commercial and Agricultural Journal
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
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.
Friday, August 1, 2014
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
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
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."
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.
 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
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.
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.
Friday, July 18, 2014
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." 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)
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.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
In May, Find My Past announced the release of two new record sets, Irish Marriage Notices In American Newspapers and Irish Death Notices in American Newspapers. This post will focus on the collection of marriage notices; my next post, in a few days, will look at the death collection in more detail.
Irish Marriage Notices In American Newspapers contains 2,550 records, taken from four different U.S. newspapers: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, New York Herald, New York World, and Phoenix. When the record set was released, Irish Genealogy News reported that these notices appeared in the newspapers from 1835 to 1860.
In total, 1,446 notices are for people living in the Unites States. Almost all—1,304—are for marriages in New York. The remaining 1,104 notices are for people outside the U.S., of which the majority—926—are for people in Ireland.
I don't have a Find My Past subscription so unfortunately was unable to look at the actual records and see if Irish places of origin are included for marriages occurring in the U.S. For marriages that occurred in Ireland, it is likely that the place where the marriage took place is included. Scanning through the surname of those in the records shows that many are for Irish immigrants with traditionally English and Scottish names, e.g. Adams, Allen, Brown, Greenswood, Jackson, Stewart, Thompson etc.
New Jersey 64
New York 1304
Rhode Island 2
United States 60
Washington DC 2
Windward Islands 4
Link to Irish Marriage Notices in American Newspapers database.
New Jersey 64
New York 1304
Rhode Island 2
United States 60
Washington DC 2
Windward Islands 4
Link to Irish Marriage Notices in American Newspapers database.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
There is a long tradition in many American cities of Irish immigrants working in the public service. In particular, there has been a strong association between the Irish and various police departments. Therefore, police employment records and publications about police departments should be genealogical sources that people turn to for police officer ancestors (scroll down or click here to read about police records for San Francisco).
One example of the latter is History of the Chicago Police from the Settlement of the Community to the Present Time , published in 1887. This is a large volume that gives a detailed overview of the workings of the police, in all its various incarnations, up to the end of the 19th century.
|Patrolman James Conway|
The genealogical joy in this publication is derived from the profiles of police officers of all ranks that make up the last ten chapters. Approximately 90 biographies state that the member of the police force was born in Ireland, with more than one quarter of these entries giving an Irish county of birth.
|Patrolman Arthur Connolly|
Monday, July 7, 2014
One of the things I always try and promote—especially to younger genealogists who often think they can find everything online—is the amount of help and information that can be obtained from a local family history group or society. At the most recent meeting I attended of the Fairfax County Genealogical Society Irish Special Interest Group (in Virginia), I learned a number of interesting tidbits about Irish genealogy in as far flung places as Washington, D.C., New Zealand, and St. Paul, Minnesota.
So with that goal in mind, I have previously profiled TIARA (part one / part two), probably the largest Irish genealogy group in the Boston/Massachusetts area. Next up is another group in the state: Friends of Irish Research (FIR), based in Brockton, MA.
While their website could do with an update (there is a notice saying it is under construction), FIR has a number of items of interest on there:
An indexing project that will compile all names found on headstones in St. Mary's Cemetery, Brockton, MA. This database is listed as 'coming soon' on their website.
A mention about their library of over 5000 publications.
Videos (downlandable files) of lectures concerning different Irish genealogy topics.
A list of publications you can read by FIR members, mostly about Irish, U.S., and Canadian genealogy topics.
P.S. This group is included in the Groups/Societies & Institutions section of this website. On this page you can find the details for many Irish family history organizations and institutions that have a large number of records relevant to Irish genealogy.
Friday, July 4, 2014
Archive.org is a website full of wonderful scanned genealogy resources. Buried down in all their millions of scanned images is the three volume Chronological Record of Police Appointments City and County of San Francisco. These volumes cover an almost 100 year period, from 1853 to 1947.
The three volumes are ledgers that start with an index of names containing the page number for the full entry. After the index, there is a chronological listing of new police recruits. If recorded, there is a fantastic amount of information included for each new recruit: name, date of birth, city or county of birth, state or country of birth, previous occupation, married or single, no. in family, date appointed, age when appointed, date removed, remarks, and length of service.
|Two Irish immigrants in Chronological Record of Police Appointments City and County of San Francisco, part one|
|Two Irish immigrants in Chronological Record of Police Appointments City and County of San Francisco, part two*|
Like many other American cities, San Francisco experienced a significant amount of immigration from Ireland in the 19th century. These immigrants were attracted to secure public sector employment and the police department saw large numbers of Irish recruits. Two samples from volume one show the prevalence of Irish immigrants:
Pages: 1 to 15, covering the 1860s
Total # of new recruits: 150
Total of which are Irish: 45 (30% of recruits)
Total with county of origin: 27 (60% of Irish recruits)
Pages: 49 to 66, covering the years 1884-1886
Total # of new recruits: 180
Total of which are Irish: 51 (28% of recruits)
Total with county of origin: 34 (67% of Irish recruits)
Any record set that has county of origin information for more that 50% of Irish entries is a very valuable genealogical resource. The rate of Irish-born recruits does fall off in the second and third volumes. However, they are replaced by first generation Irish-Americans, the sons of the first wave of Irish immigrants.
* Chronological Record of Police Appointments City and County of San Francisco, Volume 1, 1853-1904, page 6, entries section, available online at https://archive.org/stream/chronologicalrec1185sanf#page/n125/mode/1up : accessed 2 July 2014.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
My knowledge of Canadian genealogy is somewhat inferior to that of what I know about the same topic for the U.S. Learning more is therefore important as many Irish settled in Canada over the centuries and countless others first arrived on Canadian shores before migrating south to the U.S. This inter-connectedness lends itself to a need for a holistic approach when studying the genealogy of Irish immigrants.
Every genealogist needs somewhere to start when it comes to learning about a new area of interest to their research. For Canada, there is a very succinct introduction to Irish genealogical research on the website of Library and Archives Canada.
You can access the webpage here.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
This picture captures the most rudimentary but fundamental act during emigration: paying the emigration agent.
The various signs in the picture advertize: "G. O'Neil E[mig]ration [Ag]ent", "Direct from Cork", "For Quebec", and "Hibernia." In the right foreground, a woman sits on a box that says: Jack Sullivan Goin to Ameriky [sic]. In the background, there seems to be a woman and child in distress, possibly due to they or a loved one leaving Ireland.
The second and third paragraph make reference to a particularly busy time of year when many people left Cork: "Upon reference to notes and papers of my own, and to information afforded me by the emigration agents here, I am disposed to think that about the middle of May the great emigrational torrent ceases to flow from these shores. Looking backward for the last month, I find that, during the week ending April 11 the greatest rush for the season took place. The numbers who left Cork that week could not have fallen far short of 1500 souls…" The date May 10, 1851 has also been written on the picture.
Source: NYPL Digital Collections
Source: NYPL Digital Collections