Going Deeper Into U.S. Maritime Records

Going Deeper Into U.S. Maritime Records

The War of 1812 was less than a year underway. The high seas and even the coastal shipways were a dangerous place for the United States to be conducting commercial shipping. Almost no ships were bound for foreign ports because of the federal embargoes put in place by the government. An American captain and his crew knew that if they crossed paths with a British or French vessel, they very well might not come back. So what compelled men, like William Maran, a “free mulatto,” to ship out of Philadelphia during the war? Like many other seamen, William acquired his application paper for a seamen’s protection certificate from a public notary, in order to have proof he was a U.S. citizen when traveling abroad. This document and the date it was made serves as strong evidence that he was soon to embark on an American vessel for the purposes of coastal shipping or privateering.

Fig 1. William Maran's Application for Seamen's Protection Certificate in the port of Philadelphia. (FamilySearch.org). 
Fig 1. William Maran's Application for Seamen's Protection Certificate in the port of Philadelphia. (FamilySearch.org). 

 Even if William’s notarized document doesn’t directly explain the capacity in which he served for the U.S. shipping industry, his application paper provides a lot of great genealogical information. As stated, the notary listed William as a “free mulatto,” born 1789 in Coecil [Cecil] County, Maryland. Application papers required documentation or a witness to attest to the seamen’s identity and birth in the United States. In the case of William, his father John Maran was in Philadelphia and provided his mark on the document. What’s even more fascinating about the application, is the detail provided for William’s physical description. He was 5’9”, had black wooly hair, dark eyes, stout nose, round chin, smooth face, yellowish complexion, had a scar over his left eye brow and several scars on both his legs. Most protection certificates and applications will describe the hair, skin color, and eye color, but the nose, chin, and face descriptions are much more rare in these documents. William Maran and thousands of other African-Americans worked on American ships because the U.S. Maritime industry was a meritocracy. A captain hired his crew based on their skill and ability, not on race.

U.S. Maritime Records are very useful for genealogists who have ancestors in the shipping industry. My first maritime post for Legacy News was “My Grandfather Was A Sea Captain: Researching Maritime Ancestors,” which is a good introduction to where records are, but I wanted to take you deeper into the types of documents that are available for maritime research.

The majority of seamen’s protection certificates and identification documents are in the custody of the National Archives, with the exception that a few are scattered in smaller repositories. The majority of these protection documents and the Collector of Customs register of seamen who applied for protection are in online collections on major genealogy databases:

Ancestry

U.S., Applications for Seamen’s Protection Certificates, 1916-1940

U.S., Citizenship Affidavits of U.S. Born Seamen at Select Ports, 1792-1869

Register of Seamen’s Protection Certificates from the Providence, Rhode Island Customs District, 1796-1870

Indexes to Seamen’s Protection Certificate Applications and Proofs of Citizenship

Web: US, New England Seamen’s Protection Certificate Index, 1796-1871

FamilySearch

Maine, Bath, Seamen’s Proofs of Citizenship, 1833-1868

Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Seamen’s Proofs of Citizenship, 1791-1861

United States, New England Seamen’s Identification Cards, 1918-1940

Crew lists and articles of agreement are a roster of the crew serving on a vessel. They provide name, rank, age, residence, payroll information, and physical description (skin, height, hair). Sometimes they include the place of birth as well, but it may only list the name of the city alone, so be careful to not mistake it for another place (i.e., Portsmouth, Rhode Island vs. Portsmouth, New Hampshire). Many collections of crew lists are searchable on Ancestry and FamilySearch. If one of these documents isn’t available for a voyage, try searching the National Archives Catalog for seamen returns and portage bills in Records of the U.S. Customs Service, which at least list the name of each seamen and their wages.

Every time an American vessel went on a commercial shipping voyage and returned with cargo, the customs collector and other employees created a number of documents, like cargo manifests, entries of merchandise, and inspection reports. An important reference work for researching in shipping records is American Maritime Documents, 1776-1860 by Doug L. Stein, which explains all of the different documents created at the custom house. The National Archives at Boston created a glossary of terms for it’s finding aid for New England maritime records, which is available as a pdf file.

It’s important for genealogists to not overlook the fact that many of these documents feature original signatures by maritime personnel. The master and/or mate needed to sign under oath a number of documents, such as that the manifest of cargo entering the port was correct and legal.

Fig 2. Inward Foreign Manifest of Whaling Brig Charles W. Morgan . The current master John Maxwell Pinkham of New Bedford, Massachuusetts signed under oath in 1874 that the manifest was correct. (National Archives and Records Administration, NAID 12022944).
Fig 2. Inward Foreign Manifest of Whaling Brig Charles W. Morgan . The current master John Maxwell Pinkham of New Bedford, Massachuusetts signed under oath in 1874 that the manifest was correct. (National Archives and Records Administration, NAID 12022944).

Articles of agreement were signed by every member of the crew before embarking on the voyage and protection applications were signed by the applicant. Many American seamen frequently moved around the country and even the world. It can be difficult to track them using methods of genealogical analysis like age, next of kin, and location, so signatures may be the only clue that helps in confirming their identity.

Fig 3. Articles of Agreement for 1824 voyage of Brig Friendship of Salem, Massachusetts. (FamilySearch.org). 
Fig 3. Articles of Agreement for 1824 voyage of Brig Friendship of Salem, Massachusetts. (FamilySearch.org). 

Another reason it’s difficult to track seamen is because of the high rate of desertion and death during voyages. There are several sources which can help identifying these incidents, which will be the subject of an upcoming post.

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Jake Fletcher is a professional genealogist, educator and blogger. He currently serves as Vice President of the New England Association of Professional Genealogists (NEAPG).


Strategies to Find the Most Challenging Ancestors with Autosomal DNA Data - free webinar by James M. Baker, PhD, CG now online for limited time

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The recording of today's webinar, "Strategies to Find the Most Challenging Ancestors with Autosomal DNA Data" by James M. Baker, PhD, CG is now available to view at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com for free for a limited time.

Webinar Description

Case studies are used to illustrate the best strategies to use to find the ancestors you need to fill in gaps in your family tree in the 6th and 7th generation. Class members learn how to mix and match the use of Ancestry DNA, FTDNA, and GEDmatch to accumulate DNA evidence while efficiently sorting through the many possible matches.

View the Recording at FamilyTreeWebinars.com

If you could not make it to the live event or just want to watch it again, the 1 hour 43 minute recording of "Strategies to Find the Most Challenging Ancestors with Autosomal DNA Data" PLUS the after-webinar party is now available to view in our webinar library for free for a limited time. Or watch it at your convenience with an annual or monthly webinar membership.

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Use webinar coupon code dna17 for 10% off anything in our online store including Legacy software, Legacy QuickGuides, webinar memberships and more. Coupon good through Monday, January 9, 2017.

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Guide_AutosomalDNAAutosomal DNA for the Genealogist - Quick Reference PDF Guide - 5.95

Autosomal DNA is being touted as one of the hottest genealogy tools available, but it leaves many with more questions than answers. Turn to this quick guide for answers to these common questions:
  • What exactly is autosomal DNA testing?
  • Who can be tested?
  • What testing companies provide this testing?
  • What will the results tell me?
  • What are the maps with all of the ethnicity percentages?
  • What do those maps have to do with my genealogy?
  • How do I organize my DNA matches to make the most of the testing?
  • Use this guide to gain knowledge and confidence in this exciting field of research.

About the author: Diahan Southard has a background in microbiology with a talent for clear and concise explanations of complicated topics. She has been translating genetics into genealogy for 14 years and currently acts as Your DNA Guide (www.yourDNAguide.com), providing personalized consultation experiences to help genealogists use DNA testing in their genealogy.

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  • Tips and Tricks to Organizing Your Genealogy by Shannon Combs-Bennett. January 11.
  • Legacy Family Tree for Complete Beginners by Geoff Rasmussen. January 13.
  • Writing Up Your Research by Michael J. Leclerc, CG. January 17.
  • Create a Free Google Earth Historic Map Collection for Your Research by Lisa Louise Cooke. January 18.
  • Playing Nice In The Genealogy Sandbox by Thomas MacEntee. January 25.
  • Photography for Genealogy by Nicka Smith. February 1.
  • The WHO of Genetic Genealogy by Blaine Bettinger. February 8.
  • Deciphering German Script by Gail Blankenau. February 10.
  • Be Your Own Digital Archivist: Preserve Your Research by Cyndi Ingle. February 15.
  • Weaving DNA Test Results into a Proof Argument by Karen Stanbary, CG. February 21.
  • Finding Missing Persons With DNA Testing by Diahan Southard. February 22.
  • Apprentices, Indentured Servants, and Redemptioners: White Slavery in America by Peggy Clemens Lauritzen, AG. March 1.
  • 50 Websites Every Genealogist Should Know by Gena Philibert-Ortega. March 8.
  • Home on the Range: Kansas Research Tips by Cari Taplin, CG. March 10.
  • Why are Irish records so weird? by John Grenham. March 15.
  • Are You My Grandpa? Men of the Same Name by Rebecca Whitman Koford, CG. March 21.
  • Picture This: Images You Can Freely Use by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL. March 22.
  • Introduction to Quaker Genealogy Research by Craig Scott, MA, CG, FUGA. March 29.
  • Preserve, Share, and Search Your Digital Pictures with Google Photos by Geoff Rasmussen. April 5.
  • Your Whiteboard in the Cloud: Trello for Genealogists by Lisa Alzo. April 12.
  • Complete Photo Restoration in 4 Easy Steps by Eric Basir. April 14.
  • The Genealogy in Government Documents by Rick Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA. April 18.
  • Neighborhood Reconstruction: Effective Use of Land Records by Mary Hill, AG. April 19.
  • Finding and Using Land Ownership Maps by Rick Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA. April 26.
  • Researching Criminal Records by Ron Arons. April 28.
  • Take Me Back to Where I Belong: Transportation Records of the Freedmen’s Bureau by Angela Walton-Raji. May 3.
  • Beginning Danish Research by Charles Fritz Juengling, AG. May 10.
  • New York City and State Governmental Vital Records by Jane Wilcox. May 12.
  • MAXY DNA: Correlating mt-at-X-Y DNA with the GPS by Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL. May 16.
  • Remember Me: Lifestreaming and the Modern Genealogist by Thomas MacEntee. May 17.
  • WikiTree: Free for All without a Free-for-All by Eowyn Langholf. May 24.
  • The Great War: Researching Your World War I Ancestors by Michael L. Strauss, AG. May 31.
  • Researching Your Minnesota Ancestors by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA. June 7.
  • How Harry Potter Can Teach You About DNA by Blaine Bettinger. June 14.
  • What Now? Your Next Steps with Autosomal DNA Testing by Diahan Southard. June 16.
  • Beating the Bushes: Using the GPS to Find Jacob Bush's Father by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL. June 20.
  • Virtual Family Reunions: Super Easy, Super Fun by Pat Richley and Russ Worthington. June 21.
  • Canada's Top 10 by Kathryn Lake Hogan. June 28.
  • Censational Census Strategies by Mary Kircher Roddy. July 5.
  • Google Books: the tool you should use every day! by Lisa Louise Cooke. July 12.
  • Tips for Snapping Pics: How to Take Perfect Family Photographs by Jared Hodges. July 14.
  • Analyzing Documents Sparks Ideas for Further Research by Angela Packer McGhie, CG. July 18.
  • The Firelands, The Connecticut Western Reserve, and the Ohio Territory by Peggy Clemens Lauritzen, AG. July 19.
  • Family History Adhesive: The Science of Why History Binds Families and the Simple Tech of How to Do It by Janet Hovorka. July 26.
  • Tracing Your West Country Ancestors by Kirsty Gray. August 2.
  • A Taxing Matter: Using Tax Lists in Genealogy by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL. August 9.
  • Using Pictures with Legacy Family Tree by Geoff Rasmussen. August 11.
  • Analyzing Probate Records of Slaveholders to Identify Enslaved Ancestors by LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG. August 15.
  • Finding Your Ancestors in German Directories by Ursula C. Krause. August 16.
  • How to do Mexican Research and Be Successful by Jonathan Walker. August 23.
  • Getting Started with Evidentia by Edward A. Thompson. August 30.
  • Top Tech Tips for the Technologist and the Genealogist by Geoff Rasmussen. September 6.
  • Finding Isaac Rogers by Nicka Smith. September 13.
  • The ABCs and 123s of Researching Your Ancestor's School Records by Melissa Barker. September 15.
  • When Does Newfound Evidence Overturn a Proved Conclusion? by Tom Jones, Ph.D, CG, CGL. September 19.
  • WolframAlpha for Genealogists by Thomas MacEntee. September 20.
  • Quick Guide to Texas Research by Deena Coutant. September 27.
  • No Easy Button: Using “Immersion Genealogy” to Understand Your Ancestors by Lisa Alzo. October 4.
  • Southern States Migration Patterns by Mary Hill, AG. October 11.
  • Is Your Society Growing? Social Media may be your saving grace by Pat Richley. October 13.
  • Databases, Search Engines, and the Genealogical Proof Standard by David Ouimette, CG. October 17.
  • The WPA: Sources for Your Genealogy by Gena Philibert-Ortega. October 18.
  • Midwestern & Plains States Level Census Records by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA. October 25.
  • Is this the End? Taking Your German Brick Walls Down Piece by Piece by Luana Darby and Ursula C. Krause. November 1.
  • New York City Genealogical Research: Navigating Through The Five Boroughs by Michael L. Strauss, AG. November 8.
  • Using Non-Population Schedules for Context and Evidence by Jill Morelli. November 10.
  • British and Irish research: the differences by Brian Donovan. November 15.
  • Research in Federal Records: Some Assembly Required by Malissa Ruffner, JD, CG. November 21.
  • Understanding Alabama by Rorey Cathcart. November 29.
  • Finding Your Roots in Catholic Records by Lisa Toth Salinas. December 6.
  • I Thought He Was My Ancestor: Avoiding the Six Biggest Genealogy Mistakes by James M. Baker, PhD, CG. December 13.
  • Finding Your Nordic Parish of Birth by Jill Morelli. December 15.
  • The Law and the Reasonably Exhaustive (Re)Search by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL. December 19.
  • Palmetto Pride - South Carolina for Genealogist by Rorey Cathcart. December 20.
  • Problems and Pitfalls of a Reasonably Shallow Search by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL. December 27.

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Complete 8-Class Utah Series Now Online

Complete 8-Class Utah Series Now Online

Utah is known as the home of the Family History Library. It may be the home of your ancestors too! We've got the resources for you to dive deep into researching your Utah family. With the addition of four new webinars, the eight-class series on Utah research is now complete.  The four new classes include:

We're working hard to give our webinar subscribers the educational classes they need to maximize their genealogical research! All of these new classes are bonus webinars in the webinar library. The webinar previews are always free.

Utah Going to the Courthouse

Not all Utah courthouse records are at the courthouse. And for most courthouses the researcher has to rely on paying for a search which may or may not result in the records they need. Knowing the structure of the Utah court system and how to access records is important in order to avoid frustration. We’ll look at what must be requested, what is available online through the courthouse website, what can be searched in person, and what is available at the National Archives, the state archive, local archives, FamilySearch and other websites.

Utah Going to the Courthouse

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Utah's Melting Pot

The story of Utah is the story of its diverse ethnic population. Rich records exist to trace the diverse population of Utah. Learn more about collections documenting the lives of the Chinese, Japanese, African Americans, and Native Americans. We will look at familiar resources like censuses and then we will explore specific manuscript and special collections housed in archives and libraries throughout the state.  

Utah's Melting Pot

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Utah Newspapers and Digitized Books

In this webinar we look at the printed word. Newspapers provide us with the details of everyday life that is hard to find anywhere else. Digitized books span the realm of local history and biography which helps to tell the story of places and people. Where can you find Utah newspapers and digitized books? Many times you can find what you need online through digitization projects, subscription and free websites but for those time you can’t find what you need, knowing what is available and where is important.  

Utah Newspapers and Digitized Books

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Researching Mormon Women

Mormon women in Utah have a rich history that includes suffrage, important work outside of the home, and of course polygamy. The lives of Mormon women in Utah are documented in various archives, libraries, and museums. In this presentation learn ways to find out more about your Mormon ancestress aside from information about her in familiar sources like the census or vital records.

Researching Mormon Women

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These join four Utah webinars already in the library:

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Legacy Family Tree Webinars provides genealogy education where-you-are through live and recorded online webinars and videos. Learn from the best instructors in genealogy including Thomas MacEntee, Judy Russell, J. Mark Lowe, Lisa Louise Cooke, Megan Smolenyak, Tom Jones, and many more. Learn at your convenience. On-demand classes are available 24 hours a day! All you need is a computer or mobile device with an Internet connection.

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Register for Webinar Wednesday - Strategies to Find the Most Challenging Ancestors with Autosomal DNA Data by James M. Baker, PhD, CG

Register

Case studies are used to illustrate the best strategies to use to find the ancestors you need to fill in gaps in your family tree in the 6th and 7th generation. Class members learn how to mix and match the use of Ancestry DNA, FTDNA, and GEDmatch to accumulate DNA evidence while efficiently sorting through the many possible matches.

Join us and James M. Baker, PhD, CG for the live webinar Wednesday, January 4, 2017 at 2pm Eastern U.S. Register today to reserve your virtual seat. Registration is free but space is limited to the first 1,000 people to join that day. Before joining, please visit www.java.com to ensure you have the latest version of Java which our webinar software requires. When you join, if you receive a message that the webinar is full, you know we've reached the 1,000 limit, so we invite you to view the recording which should be published to the webinar archives within an hour or two of the event's conclusion.

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About the presenter

JamesBaker-144x144Mr. Baker, an active genealogist for the past fifteen years, completed the requirements to become a BCG associate in 2011. He specializes in German, Midwest U.S., and early American research. He was an officer of the Sacramento German Genealogy Society (SGGS) and has contributed numerous articles to its quarterly, Der Blumenbaum. He also has written articles for the National Genealogical Society (NGS) Magazine and the NGS Quarterly. He is a member of NGS and SGGS. For the past ten years, he has volunteered at the Sacramento FamilySearch Library. He has given more than 100 genealogy presentations during the past three years at local, regional, and national events.

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How to create a 2017 birthday / anniversary calendar using Legacy Family Tree

With the new year here, why not resolve to be a better relative by remembering family birthdays and anniversaries?

Two features of Legacy Family Tree make this easy to do:

  • Legacy's birthday and anniversary reminders described here.
  • Legacy's Calendar Creator.

Legacy can create a birthday calendar, an anniversary calendar, or a combination of the two. There are options to include a cover picture, picture pages above each calendar month, and complete control over color, layout, shadows, fonts, page size, and more. The calendars can be blank or include the birthdates and anniversaries of the people already entered in your family file.

That's right! Because the information (birthdays and anniversaries) is already in your Legacy family file, Legacy will automatically add this to the calendar pages. With the who to include options, you can customize the calendar so only certain family lines are included. You even have the option to skip the anniversaries of divorced couples.

Get Started

To begin, make sure that you have installed Legacy Family Tree 8 Deluxe Edition available here. Then follow these steps:

  1. With Legacy open, click on the Reports tab, then the Other Reports button, then the Calendar Creator.
  2. Using the options on the six tabs, customize the calendar to your preferences.
  3. Print, and enjoy being the person in your family that never misses a birthday or anniversary!

Instead of including all 20,000+ individuals on my calendar, I selected to include "Only Tagged Living Individuals" (found on the Include tab). I previously "tagged" the descendants of my grandparents and my wife's parents so as to only include those closely related to me.

Calendar

And wow, creating this calendar reminded me that come August 2017, I'll be turning 42. Hmmm....


The Top 10 Genealogy Webinars of 2016

What a year it was for our webinar series! At the beginning of the year we promised to bring you 61 genealogy webinars. We miscalculated. We brought you 164 of them. 164 new ways to find your family history at FamilyTreeWebinars.com. We compiled the top 10 most-watched webinar recordings for you below.

Top 10 Overall

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#9

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#3

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#2

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Is your favorite among the top 10 in 2016?


Top 10 Genealogy Webinars of December 2016

We've tallied the numbers and made a list of the Top 10 FamilyTreeWebinars.com classes for December 2016! Are your favorite topics or instructors among the list? Need something new to learn? Use the list to get inspired!

Top10

Each month thousands of Legacy Family Tree Webinar subscribers head for the library to learn new skills and techniques to help improve their genealogy research. Among the now-455 genealogy classes in the members-only library, these were the most frequently played during the month of December 2016.  They aren't necessarily the newest classes but rather the topics that were sought out by our members.

Have you seen any of these classes? Are these among your favorites too? Some of these classes (and topics) might be new to you! Get inspired to learn more and make your genealogy journey more fun!

The Top 10 for December 2016

1. Becoming a Genealogy Detective by Sharon S. Atkins

2. No, no, Nanette! What negative evidence is . . . and isn't by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

3. Watch Geoff Live: Adding a City Directory by Geoff Rasmussen

4. Tracing Your European Ancestors by Julie Goucher

5. An Introduction to BillionGraves by Garth Fitzner

6. From the Heartland - Utilizing Online Resources in Midwest Research by Luana Darby

7. Multi-Media Story Telling by Devin Ashby

8. PedigreeMap - an Interactive Map of Your Family History by Daniel Horowitz and Uri Gonen

9. A Tour of New York State Research Repositories: The Best – Part I by Jane Wilcox

10. Sources and Citations Made Simple, Standard, and Powerful by Geoff Rasmussen

The Runner-Ups

11. Dating Family Photographs - 1900-1940 by Jane Neff Rollins

12. The New York Gateway: Immigration, Emigration and Migration by Jane Wilcox

13. Up the North River: An Overview of Pre-1800s Hudson Valley Ethnic Groups and Religions by Jane Wilcox

14. Researching Hudson Valley Palatine Tenant Farmers: Overlooked Resources by Jane Wilcox

15. Foundations in DNA 1 of 5: Genealogy and DNA by Blaine Bettinger

16. Legacy Family Tree and FamilySearch Family Tree by Geoff Rasmussen

17. Organize Your Online Life by Lisa Louise Cooke

18. How to Use FamilySearch.org for Beginners by Devin Ashby

19. FAN + GPS + DNA: The Problem-Solver's Great Trifecta by Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL

20. A Tour of New York State Research Repositories: The Best – Part 2 by Jane Wilcox

Access to classes in the Legacy Family Tree Webinar library are available with an annual or monthly membership. Not a member? Become one! Or watch one of our free classes here.


The Search For Missing Friends

Irish Research - The Search For Missing Friends

The voices of Irish immigrants ring clearly through the information wanted advertisements they placed in the Boston Pilot. Catherine (Burns) Doyle, originally from Mucklow, County Wicklow who with her husband immigrated to St. Andrews, New Brunswick, sought “great comfort” in learning what happened to her brother Matthew Burns because she had not received a letter from him for years.[1] Others, like Bridget Galvin of Danielsonville, Connecticut, used the advertisement to find her husband and father of her two children, Thomas Galvin of Killbegnet near Creegs, Paris, County Galway, who deserted them in July 1863.[2] For 89 years, the Boston Pilot served as a voice for many Irish men, women, and families who sought to find a piece of home and stability in an unfamiliar world.

The Irish came to the United States in the millions during the 19th and early 20th century. Famine, economic and social conditions, and religious persectuion would have a deep impact on the citizens of Ireland. The Great Famine migration in particular, tore through families and a chaotic migration overseas left many family members separated from one another. The result of this migration, along with family dynamics and personal motivations put family members thousands of miles from another, such as the Waughans from the parish of Clonakilty, County Cork, Ireland. Daniel lived in Ansonia, New Haven County, Connecticut and was looking for his son Thomas who was last seen in New Orleans. Other Waughans mentioned were Michael of the townland Twanies, Clonakilty parish, County Cork and John of Waverly, Morgan County, Illinois.[3] It was probably Daniel’s intention to include more family members in the advertisement to increase the likelihood someone could establish a connection and write to one of them.

With a collection of 40,594 advertisements from 1831-1920, the data only represents a small fraction of the Irish diaspora that included some four and a half million people. However, this collection is very useful to descendants of Irish working on their genealogy. The Boston Pilot column gained international recognition and includes Irish living all across the United States, Canada, and Ireland, so it’s far from limited to the city of Boston.

The value in these records is the immense amount of information they provide on Irish origins. In particular, they often mention the townland of origin for each ancestor and his/her family. Identifying the townland is the ultimate prize for any Irish researcher. Townlands are smaller divisions that exist within the civil registration districts and parishes of Ireland that go back over a thousand years. They range greatly in size, but are essentially a place name inhabitants used to identify the land they lived on. The more specific detail you have on someone’s origin or location, the easier it is for you to identify the family. While it is possible to identify an ancestor from Ireland with just the county or parish, it can be more difficult.

There are of course other valuable nuggets of information in these records, such as approximate time of emigration, addresses, names of parents, and other facts that can be added to your Irish family’s story. All the information helps in confirming their identity when you search in records made in Ireland. An ancestor can elude our research and some types of genealogical records don’t go beyond saying they are simply from the country of Ireland. Often these advertisements will list there last known whereabouts and migratory patterns, presenting researchers with invaluable clues. James Coughlan noted that his five Coughlan relatives, James, John, Margaret, William, and Ellen of Kilworth, County Cork, Ireland, were known to be in Great Barrington, Massachusetts fourteen years ago and believed to have moved to Wisconsin.[4]

There are several websites which allow you to search the advertisements, originally transcribed and published in 8 volumes.[5] Ancestry.com, AmericanAncestors.org, and Boston College have versions of this database. You can sort the information with different parameters including point of origin and address within the United States. When I’m researching an Irish family, I always curious about the origins of other families living nearby and want to see if any patterns exist. I could filter results by just county or city, to see if multiple families are originating from a particular parish or townland. When I filter all advertisements with addresses in Berskhire County, I receive 226 results on Ancestry’s version and notice the people represent many of the counties. Flipping this concept, I can restrict to one point of origin in Ireland, and see how inhabitants of that townland may be spread throughout the United States. This is a good example of how to use databases to support your research without typing in any names.

One other publication is Voices of the Irish Immigrant: Information Wanted In “The Truth Teller” New York City, 1825-1844. This is still in print, with the exception that the Hathitrust Library allows users to search within the text for names and keywords for pages that include a matching word or phrase. Many other newspapers would host these types of advertisements where people requested information on relatives, so you never know where a find like this will appear.

Even if your Irish ancestor is not mentioned in the Boston Pilot advertisement, consider how this database could help provide evidence to support your conclusion about your ancestor’s point of origin in Ireland.

Need help getting start with your Irish research? Watch Legacy Family Tree's 6-part Foundations of Irish Genealogy series by Irish scholar John Grenham .

 

[1] “Searching for Missing Friends: Immigrant Advertisements Placed in “1831-1920,” online database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com), Vol.1 (1831-1850), p. 386.

[2] Ibid., Vol.5, p.206.

[3] Ibid., Vol 6, p. 291.

[4] Ibid., Vol 6, p. 291.

[5] The Search for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in the Boston Pilot (New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, 1989-1993), edited by Ruth-Ann M. Harris, Donald M. Jacobs, Dominique M. Pickett, and B. Emer O’Keeffe.

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Jake Fletcher is a professional genealogist, educator and blogger from Massachusetts. He currently volunteers as a research assistant at the National Archives in Waltham, Massachusetts and is Vice President of the New England Association of Professional Genealogists (NEAPG).


California Genealogy - New Legacy QuickGuide now available

Legacy QuickGuidesTM have quickly become one of the more popular resources for genealogists. Each guide contains four (sometimes five, sometimes more) pages of valuable information covering a variety of genealogy research topics, dozens of clickable links, and are written by genealogists and family historians who are experts in the subject areas. We've added another new Legacy QuickGuide: California Genealogy by Gena Philibert-Ortega. Now choose from 84 Legacy QuickGuides!

California GenealogyCalifornia Genealogy - 2.95  

First explored in 1542 by Europeans, California has a rich history of opportunity and diversity. California was colonized by Spain, Russia, and Mexico before becoming a state in 1850. A wave of fortune seekers arrived with the discovery of gold in 1848 and would continue to come for work, opportunities, and the weather. The history of the people of California begins with its Native American population and continues with immigrants who make California their home today.
 
Looking to find those elusive Golden State ancestors? The California Genealogy Legacy QuickGuide™ contains useful information including a timeline of California history events, tips on California research strategy, outline of major migration routes, and more. Also included are links to websites and resources covering vital records, church records, census records, as well as general California resources. This handy 6-page PDF guide can be used on your computer or mobile device for anytime access.
 
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An Introduction to BillionGraves - free webinar by Garth Fitzner now online for limited time

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The recording of today's webinar, "An Introduction to BillionGraves" by Garth Fitzner is now available to view at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com for free for a limited time.

Webinar Description

BillionGraves.com strives to preserve precious records found in cemeteries throughout the world. Using modern technology to capture images of headstones with their GPS locations, the site provides access to these records. This webinar will discuss how to use the site, the technology, and how you can help.

View the Recording at FamilyTreeWebinars.com

If you could not make it to the live event or just want to watch it again, the 1 hour 46 minute recording of "An Introduction to BillionGraves" is now available to view in our webinar library for free for a limited time. Or watch it at your convenience with an annual or monthly webinar membership.

Cemetery ResearchCemetery Research Legacy QuickGuide - 2.95

The Cemetery Research Legacy QuickGuide™ contains useful information including tips and tricks, a list of different types of cemeteries, terminology, and more. This handy 4-page PDF guide can be used on your computer or mobile device for anytime access.

For the genealogy researcher, cemeteries are considered “museums” providing a link with the past which reflect the culture, history, art, architecture and attitudes of an ancestor’s era. Data found through cemetery visits, as well as through online and/or offline cemetery research, may unearth clues about an ancestor and about the time and place where an ancestor lived. 

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Register for our upcoming webinars (free)

  • Strategies to Find the Most Challenging Ancestors with Autosomal DNA Data by James M. Baker, PhD, CG. January 4.
  • Tips and Tricks to Organizing Your Genealogy by Shannon Combs-Bennett. January 11.
  • Legacy Family Tree for Complete Beginners by Geoff Rasmussen. January 13.
  • Writing Up Your Research by Michael J. Leclerc, CG. January 17.
  • Create a Free Google Earth Historic Map Collection for Your Research by Lisa Louise Cooke. January 18.
  • Playing Nice In The Genealogy Sandbox by Thomas MacEntee. January 25.
  • Photography for Genealogy by Nicka Smith. February 1.
  • The WHO of Genetic Genealogy by Blaine Bettinger. February 8.
  • Deciphering German Script by Gail Blankenau. February 10.
  • Be Your Own Digital Archivist: Preserve Your Research by Cyndi Ingle. February 15.
  • Weaving DNA Test Results into a Proof Argument by Karen Stanbary, CG. February 21.
  • Finding Missing Persons With DNA Testing by Diahan Southard. February 22.
  • Apprentices, Indentured Servants, and Redemptioners: White Slavery in America by Peggy Clemens Lauritzen, AG. March 1.
  • 50 Websites Every Genealogist Should Know by Gena Philibert-Ortega. March 8.
  • Home on the Range: Kansas Research Tips by Cari Taplin, CG. March 10.
  • Why are Irish records so weird? by John Grenham. March 15.
  • Are You My Grandpa? Men of the Same Name by Rebecca Whitman Koford, CG. March 21.
  • Picture This: Images You Can Freely Use by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL. March 22.
  • Introduction to Quaker Genealogy Research by Craig Scott, MA, CG, FUGA. March 29.
  • Preserve, Share, and Search Your Digital Pictures with Google Photos by Geoff Rasmussen. April 5.
  • Your Whiteboard in the Cloud: Trello for Genealogists by Lisa Alzo. April 12.
  • Complete Photo Restoration in 4 Easy Steps by Eric Basir. April 14.
  • The Genealogy in Government Documents by Rick Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA. April 18.
  • Neighborhood Reconstruction: Effective Use of Land Records by Mary Hill, AG. April 19.
  • Finding and Using Land Ownership Maps by Rick Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA. April 26.
  • Researching Criminal Records by Ron Arons. April 28.
  • Take Me Back to Where I Belong: Transportation Records of the Freedmen’s Bureau by Angela Walton-Raji. May 3.
  • Beginning Danish Research by Charles Fritz Juengling, AG. May 10.
  • New York City and State Governmental Vital Records by Jane Wilcox. May 12.
  • MAXY DNA: Correlating mt-at-X-Y DNA with the GPS by Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL. May 16.
  • Remember Me: Lifestreaming and the Modern Genealogist by Thomas MacEntee. May 17.
  • WikiTree: Free for All without a Free-for-All by Eowyn Langholf. May 24.
  • The Great War: Researching Your World War I Ancestors by Michael L. Strauss, AG. May 31.
  • Researching Your Minnesota Ancestors by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA. June 7.
  • How Harry Potter Can Teach You About DNA by Blaine Bettinger. June 14.
  • What Now? Your Next Steps with Autosomal DNA Testing by Diahan Southard. June 16.
  • Beating the Bushes: Using the GPS to Find Jacob Bush's Father by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL. June 20.
  • Virtual Family Reunions: Super Easy, Super Fun by Pat Richley and Russ Worthington. June 21.
  • Canada's Top 10 by Kathryn Lake Hogan. June 28.
  • Censational Census Strategies by Mary Kircher Roddy. July 5.
  • Google Books: the tool you should use every day! by Lisa Louise Cooke. July 12.
  • Tips for Snapping Pics: How to Take Perfect Family Photographs by Jared Hodges. July 14.
  • Analyzing Documents Sparks Ideas for Further Research by Angela Packer McGhie, CG. July 18.
  • The Firelands, The Connecticut Western Reserve, and the Ohio Territory by Peggy Clemens Lauritzen, AG. July 19.
  • Family History Adhesive: The Science of Why History Binds Families and the Simple Tech of How to Do It by Janet Hovorka. July 26.
  • Tracing Your West Country Ancestors by Kirsty Gray. August 2.
  • A Taxing Matter: Using Tax Lists in Genealogy by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL. August 9.
  • Using Pictures with Legacy Family Tree by Geoff Rasmussen. August 11.
  • Analyzing Probate Records of Slaveholders to Identify Enslaved Ancestors by LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG. August 15.
  • Finding Your Ancestors in German Directories by Ursula C. Krause. August 16.
  • How to do Mexican Research and Be Successful by Jonathan Walker. August 23.
  • Getting Started with Evidentia by Edward A. Thompson. August 30.
  • Top Tech Tips for the Technologist and the Genealogist by Geoff Rasmussen. September 6.
  • Finding Isaac Rogers by Nicka Smith. September 13.
  • The ABCs and 123s of Researching Your Ancestor's School Records by Melissa Barker. September 15.
  • When Does Newfound Evidence Overturn a Proved Conclusion? by Tom Jones, Ph.D, CG, CGL. September 19.
  • WolframAlpha for Genealogists by Thomas MacEntee. September 20.
  • Quick Guide to Texas Research by Deena Coutant. September 27.
  • No Easy Button: Using “Immersion Genealogy” to Understand Your Ancestors by Lisa Alzo. October 4.
  • Southern States Migration Patterns by Mary Hill, AG. October 11.
  • Is Your Society Growing? Social Media may be your saving grace by Pat Richley. October 13.
  • Databases, Search Engines, and the Genealogical Proof Standard by David Ouimette, CG. October 17.
  • The WPA: Sources for Your Genealogy by Gena Philibert-Ortega. October 18.
  • Midwestern & Plains States Level Census Records by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA. October 25.
  • Is this the End? Taking Your German Brick Walls Down Piece by Piece by Luana Darby and Ursula C. Krause. November 1.
  • New York City Genealogical Research: Navigating Through The Five Boroughs by Michael L. Strauss, AG. November 8.
  • Using Non-Population Schedules for Context and Evidence by Jill Morelli. November 10.
  • British and Irish research: the differences by Brian Donovan. November 15.
  • Research in Federal Records: Some Assembly Required by Malissa Ruffner, JD, CG. November 21.
  • Understanding Alabama by Rorey Cathcart. November 29.
  • Finding Your Roots in Catholic Records by Lisa Toth Salinas. December 6.
  • I Thought He Was My Ancestor: Avoiding the Six Biggest Genealogy Mistakes by James M. Baker, PhD, CG. December 13.
  • Finding Your Nordic Parish of Birth by Jill Morelli. December 15.
  • The Law and the Reasonably Exhaustive (Re)Search by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL. December 19.
  • Palmetto Pride - South Carolina for Genealogist by Rorey Cathcart. December 20.
  • Problems and Pitfalls of a Reasonably Shallow Search by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL. December 27.

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