Thursday, June 10, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Certificate of Discharge (John H. Beare)

My step-father’s uncle (by marriage) was Captain John Henry Beare, a seaman in the Mercantile Marines. Amongst the treasures that I have are Captain Beare’s Certificate of Discharge papers from the various ships of which he was a member of the crew. I have about 30 of these discharge papers ranging from 1886 when he was just 16 years old to 1912 when he was 41 years old (he retired as Captain in 1935 at the age of 64).

The Certificate of Discharge below is for his time served on the Elizabeth Graham. He joined the crew in Melbourne, Australia on December 10, 1890 at the age of 20 and was discharged on January 13, 1892 in Sydney, Australia. The Master of the ship was a Captain C. Hodge. His station on board was “AB” – not sure what that is. Either on the back of the certificate or stamped on the front the Master would note the character of the seaman. On all of the discharge papers, his “Character of Ability” and “Character of Conduct” was always no less than Very Good.

One of the items on my To Do List is to try and find passenger lists to match the discharge papers. The one below is one that I have found on Ancestry for his time on the Elizabeth Graham (there could be several for his 2 year stint on this ship). On this trip, they left Bluff, New Zealand on January 30, 1891 and arrived in Sydney on February 2,1891.

After he left the Elizabeth Graham, he joined the crew of the Nemesis in May 1892 as 3rd Mate.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy – Week 21 – States Archives

Week 21 of Amy Coffin’s 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy is to examine the website of our state or provincial archives. To take time to push all the buttons and click all the links. I’m a week late in this challenge, but better late than never.

The Quebec Archives are called the Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Quebec (BAnQ). It is a result of an amalgamation in 2005 of the Grande Bibliothèque du Quebec, the Bibliothèque nationale du Quebec and the Archives nationals du Quebec. The BAnQ is devoted to the acquisition and preservation of Quebec’s published, archival and film heritage. Because this is a joining of the Quebec archives and two libraries (bibliothèque is French for library), there is a whole lot more to it than just your regular archives.

A new building was built in 2005 and is called the Grand Bibliothèque. This serves as a lending library for reference material, non fiction as well as fiction and has everything that libraries would have, such as activities for youth, workshops, exhibitions, etc., and also serves as one of the archive centres.

Although they are in the process of digitizing a lot of the archives, not everything is available online yet and therefore requires a trip to one of the archives centres. The archives branch of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Quebec offers its services throughout Quebec via a network of nine regional centres. If anyone is looking for a specific type of record, it is best to call to find out which centre to go to.

A few months back I found online the Lovell’s Montreal Directory, which lists the old Montreal municipal directories from 1842-1999. I had a great old time looking up addresses for my step-father’s family from the time they arrived in Montreal and then later directories from when we moved to Montreal from Saskatchewan after my mom married my step-dad. Because they have their own website, I had no idea at the time that these records were part of the digital collection of the Quebec Archives. I only discovered this a couple of weeks ago when I found the BAnQ’s website while trying to locate archived records of the old Montreal Star newspaper.

Part of the collections available is a section devoted to genealogy. There are online research tools, but it also lists resources available in the research rooms. I must make mention here that all the records in the archives are strictly related to Quebec. You will not find any census records for any of the other provinces.

As I mentioned above, a couple of weeks ago I was trying to find where the archives for the Montreal Star newspaper were located as I was looking for an obituary from 1927. In looking around BAnQ’s website, I discovered that they are held at the Quebec Archives (I know that seems logical, but there was also a chance that they would be located at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa!), but they have not been digitized yet. As there are two archive centres in Montreal, I called to find out which one the newspaper archives would be located (it’s a good thing I did call as they are not located in centre that I thought they would be in). All the newspaper archives (for both of Montreal’s two English newspapers) are on microfilm and are located at the Grand Bibliothèque in downtown Montreal, which being, a library, is open on weekends! So two Saturday’s ago I hopped on the Metro (absolutely no parking available downtown) and decided to make a day of it. I have to say here, this place is huge. It’s so big that they give guided tours twice a month, and there is a boutique and a restaurant!

Now don’t laugh, but this is the first time in 27 years that I have used a microfilm reader! They have changed considerably since 1983. After I was shown how to load and use the machine, there was no stopping me. It took me awhile to find what I was looking for because I kept getting distracted reading the old newspapers! However, I eventually found the main obituary I was looking for as well as another one from 1917.

Although I thought I had only been there for about an hour, it turns out I had spent 3 ½ hours there. I defiantly have to go back soon, as I still have more newspaper obits that I want to look up. Maybe I will go on a day that they have a tour.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

1901 Irish Census Now Online!

All thirty-two counties for 1901 are now available online on the National Archives of Ireland website.

I've been waiting awhile for this day as I have quite a few ancestors from Northern Ireland. I had previously ordered an extract from Emerald Ancestors, but it would prove to be a bit costly if I wanted to search for all the names that I have. They also couldn't guarantee that they had the extracts for everyone. So when the 1911 census went online, free, I was quite excited - even if the county I wanted was one of the last to go online.

For the 1901 census, they have released all 32 counties at once. I have done a quick check and have found my grandfather (aged 4) with his family. Will have to wait until the weekend to be able to spend more time looking more thoroughly.