Monday, September 30, 2013

Research Example: Finding The Townland Of Origin

What parish were they baptized in? What townland were they from? Could it even be possible to get an exact location for a house they lived in? These are some of the questions that people start with when they begin their genealogical journey (well, they might not know what a townland is at the start, but they'll soon find out how important it is!)

Research guides abound, but a concise, clear example of quality step-by-step research that finds the townland of origin can be hard to come across. With this in mind, I would like to present an example by Judy Kellar Fox, a board certified genealogist.

The blog posts outline the research conducted over a ten week period, the examination of evidence from primary and secondary resources, and how specific pieces of information lead to the examination of other record sets. Importantly, hypotheses are tested and evidence used to lead to conclusions. Regular readers of my blog will note that my beloved citations make a regular appearance too!

Pinpointing Denis Buggy's Irish Origins (note: I contributed advice about how surname research can be used in this process.)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Emigration Lecture Handout

Many genealogists in the U.S. and Canada research for those with Irish ancestry. This can be of benefit to non-clients when they give talks about their expertise. Many genealogy groups host such experts and handouts from their talks are often available on their websites.

One such example is for the talks given by Cath Madden Trimble, CG for the Santa Clara County Historical and Genealogical Society. You can access the handout for her talk, Irish Emigration, here. Her full list of Irish talk handouts are available by scrolling down to her name on this page.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Indentured Servants From Ireland, 1607-1820

It has been estimated that over 533,000 indentured servants came to colonial America between 1630 and the beginning of the American Revolution in the 1770s.[1] They were mostly young people who agreed to work for a set number of years in exchange for a voyage to America and the provision of food, shelter, and clothing for the duration of their debt bondage.

Since they came before 1820, there is no official set of passenger lists that can be consulted for more information about their arrival. Therefore, other documents must be consulted to establish primary and secondary evidence of their existence.

Since 2007, the Immigrants Servants Database has added information about such indentured servants. Currently, the database contains over 20,000 names for the time period 1607 to 1820. A small percentage of these, roughly 510 in total, are verified as coming from Ireland.

For example, Patrick Malone, birth nation Ireland, was born or christened about 1753, and was indentured near Baltimore, Maryland.[2] There is an interesting observation in his entry that he "speaks quick, and a good deal on the brogue." Even earlier, there was Edmund Ryan, born or christened about 1719, whose occupation was a nailer.[3]He was indentured in Milton, Massachussetts and his master was Thomas Craddock. Some entries are even more detailed concerning the persons place of origin. Katherine Arch-Deacon, originally from Bramhall, Co. Kilkenny, was indentured in 1704.[4]

Like all good historical/genealogical research, there is a citation to lead you back to where the information for each entry was gathered from.

Treatment of these indentured servants varied widely and for various reasons they absconded. This lead to their masters placing reward advertisements in newspapers of the era, such as this collection of adverts in 18th century Virginia newspapers, some of which are for absconded Irish people.

[1] Kulikoff, Allan. 1986. Migration and Cultural Diffusion in Early America, 1600-1860 in Historical Methods. Vol. 19. pp. 154-155.
[2] Immigrant Servants Database, database; accessed 9 August 2013; entry for Patrick Malone; citing Tom Costa, Virginia Runaways, The Geography of Slavery in Virginia, accessed 13 March 2007, quoting Virginia Gazette [online image].
[3] Immigrant Servants Database, database; accessed 9 August 2013; entry for Edmund Ryan; citing Michael P. Quinlin, Irish Boston: A Lively Look at Boston's Colorful Irish Past, pages 1-2, quoting New England Weekly Journal.
[4] Immigrant Servants Database, database; accessed 9 August 2013; entry for Katherine Arch-Deacon; citing Elizabeth French, List of Emigrants to America from Liverpool, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Vols. 64-65 (1910-1911), quoting Liverpool Town Books 1697-1707, Liverpool Record Office, Liverpool, England.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Faces Of Irish Child Labor

These pictures come from the National Child Labor Committee, taken by Lewis Hine between 1908 and 1924. They are of three young workers in Fall River, Massachusetts.

James Cooney - Irish - 15 years. 26 Peck St., King Philip. Drop Wire boy. Belongs to Settlement House junior baseball league. Location: Fall River, Massachusetts. 1916 June 18.

Evelyn Casey, 129 Gaynore St., 14 years, 6 months - Irish. Went to work on 14th birthday cleaning harnesses in Borden Mills. Left because of no work and expects to learn weaving in Flint mill with a girl friend. At certificate office applying for certificate for second position. Location: Fall River, Massachusetts. 1916 June 18.

James Donovan - Irish Sweeper in Fall River Iron Works. Said he was 17 years. Location: Fall River, Massachusetts. 1916 June 18.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Calling all McFaddens, Mac Pháidíns, McPhadons...

Are you a McFadden, or have an associated name? Do you want to find out more about its Irish, Scots-Irish, and Scottish origins? Then this new website,, is for you.

The McFadden Project aims to research the origins and history of the McFadden surname and its variants. The primary focus at the moment is finding men of the name willing to take a Y-DNA test, though the organizers hope the site will eventually become a hub for all things McFadden.

It is an open project. All are welcome. They encourage people with any variation of the McFadden surname to participate. These include: Fadden, Fadian, Mac Pháidín, MacFadden, MacFaden, MacFadyen, MacFadzen, MacFayden, MacPadden, MacPhaden, McFaddan, McFaddin, McFaden, McFadden, McFadgen, McFadyen, McFadzean, McFadzen, McFayden, McPadden, McPaden, McPhaden, McPhadon, McSpadden, Padden, Paden, Paterson, Paton, Patterson, Patton, Peden, and many others.

Any questions or comments can be directed to site creator Rob McFadden at

Thursday, September 12, 2013 is a website maintained by Damien Shields, a conflict archaeologist based in Ireland. Many books have been written about the role of the Irish in the U.S. Civil War, but this website takes a holistic approach and has a number of aims: (1) to tell the stories of Irish men and women caught up in the Civil War; (2) provide information on different people, units and places; (4) provide resources for those interested in the Irish experience; (4) make some small contribution to raising awareness in Ireland of the Irish experience of the American Civil War.

There are a number of excellent articles on the website such as The Ages and Origins of the Union's Irish Soldiers and Information Wanted: The Irish Missing and Disappeared of the Civil War. If his research sources contain the information, then Damien's articles refer to the place of origin for the men and women that he writes about. There is also an exhaustive list of resources to aid any researcher. Overall, this a very good website and a worthy stop for anyone who has Irish ancestors that fought in the Civil War.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Irish Themed Genealogy Conference In Ottawa

The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (one of the organizations in the "Groups & Meetups" section of this blog) is holding their annual conference next week, from Friday 20 - Sunday 22 September.

On the Irish Genealogy News blog, Claire Santry has written a piece about the theme of the conference: Ireland. In it she outlines the considerable number of sessions about Irish genealogy that are taking place.

You can find more information about the BIFHSCGO conference on their website.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Boston College Irish Genealogy Collection

Academic institutions are often overlooked by genealogists. Yet, they can contain important primary and secondary sources for genealogical research, along with considerable holdings of relevant books. Boston College has a considerable selection of resources at its main campus library, the O’Neill library.

Their collections includes a large number of “How To” guides; subscriptions to commercial genealogy websites; passenger list publications; place and place name books; family name information; and many other resources.

Unfortunately, it seems that only faculty and staff can access their holdings, but it is worth getting in contact to see if those not affiliated with the college can conduct research.

More widely, the college has access to a large number of databases relevant to Irish genealogy that can be accessed by any resident of Massachusetts with a library card.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

My Irish Times Article About Emigration And Genealogy

The excellent Irish Times blog forum, Generation Emigration, recently published an article of mine about being an immigrant in the U.S., working in the world of genealogy, and the importance of family history for emigrants, and their descendants. You can read it here.

Friday, September 6, 2013

From Beara To Butte

I have written before about Radharc documentaries and another title in their fascinating collection is From Beara to Butte. This focuses on the migration of Irish people from the Beara peninsula in Cork to Butte, Montana. You can find more information about the documentary here

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Greeley County, Nebraska

Almost everyone and their dog is familiar with how millions of Irish immigrants came to cities such as New York and Boston.  Many though are unfamiliar with the migration of Irish immigrants to other parts of the United States, save for people from those areas and their descendants.

One such example of this is Greeley County, Nebraska. Every year they have an Irish festival and they are very aware of their late 19th century Irish origins. The vast plains of the mid-west were the destination for the curious settlement experiments of the Irish Catholic Colonization Society (ICCS). This article will just concentrate on Greeley county, with another to focus on the ICCS to come.

Patrick Hynes and Michael McCarthy are credited with establishing this Irish colony in 1877.[1] In the 1880 U.S. Federal census there were approx. 1460 residents in Greeley County. [2] Of these just under 10%, or approx. 136 are listed as born in Ireland.[3] This might seem like a small number but these Irish comprised 45% of non-US born residents in Greeley County.[4] The legacy of these beginnings can still be seen in the streetscape of Greeley today. Wicklow Ave., Curran Ave., North Galway St., and North Shannon St. are just a few of the street names that give a nod to those early Irish settlers.

[1] Author Unknown. History of Greeley Irish Settlement : accessed 24 July 2013.
[2], 1880 U.S. Federal Census; Index of Greeley County, Nebraska residents; online available at : accessed 24 July 2013
[3], 1880 U.S. Federal Census; Index of Greeley County, Nebraska residents who were born in Ireland; online available at : accessed 24 July 2013
[4] Approx. 302 of the 1461 residents of Greeley county are listed as being born outside the United States in the 1880 census. Irish born residents account for 146 of these 302 inhabitants.