Home Children Find a Home Online

Were you or one of your ancestors a "home child"? Some 100,000 British children were shipped to Canada, Australia and New Zealand from 1870 to 1948. Often, the children had living parents who had placed them with charitable organizations, but did not consent to sending them abroad. The Canadian Centre for Home Children is attempting to reconnect former home children and their descendants with their lost relatives through a new online database. The database is still in the works and will appear at The center also is planning a Festival of Home Children for Sept. 12-15 in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, Canada. The festival will include workshops, storytelling, entertainment and genealogy programs.

Peruse Personal Libraries


A tip from Shavit Ben-Arie of Hertzelyia, Israel:

"Always go through your ancestors' library, book by book. I have learned that my grandmother gave away most of her father's books years ago. She had kept some books of interest or, luckily, the libraries did not accept them. Going through these books, I learned that my great-grandfather had kept different letters, business cards and records between the pages. He simply wanted to mark the page he was in. Had he, and my grandmother, known the wealth of information found there for future generations!

"In one of my great-grandfather's books, he had handwritten the names of his ancestors. Some were discovered by me, after months and years of research, and some were new, allowing me to start my research three or four generations earlier than I had planned. Books, it seems, were valuable to our ancestors as a hobby. For us, they are a treasure."


Sociology Survey Needs Your Input

There's something about seeing the places where your ancestors come from ... but what is exactly is it? British sociologist Kevin Meethan intends to find out. The University of Plymouth professor is doing a research project to investigate why we do family history research, particularly involving travel to ancestral lands. He's curious to learn how your sense of identity changes, if you identify with other online researchers without meeting them face to face and if you adopt aspects of your ancestral cultures. Want to learn more about the project or take the online survey? Visit

Mother's Maiden Name


Sometimes, finding a mother's maiden name is as easy as finding a Bible record, marriage record, newspaper article on her wedding, obituary or tombstone that states the maiden name. A tombstone reading "Lottie Haynes, wife of H.G. Barnett" indicates Haynes as her maiden name. Sometimes tombstones use the French nee, meaning "born," to indicate a wife's maiden name: "Denisha Jane Brelsford nee Turley" (born a Turley). However, the stone that reads "Elizabeth Austin nee Huston" actually reports her name by her first husband, not her maiden name.

Birth or death certificates of the woman's children or her own death certificate may give her maiden name, but these often contain mistakes. (On death certificates, one of the most common maiden names is "don't know," or "d.k.") Of these three certificates, probably the most reliable source is the birth certificates of her children. If these are not available, we use whatever clues we can find and investigate them as possibilities.

You may discover maiden names in:

* Interviews with older relatives and family friends
* Family letters and diaries
* A will or probate record of a parent naming a married daughter and her husband
* A deed of gift from a parent to a married daughter and her husband
* A deed whereby a daughter and her husband sold property she inherited
* A prenuptial agreement

You may get a clue from the names of children or grandchildren: Peter Talbot Phillips, William Darby Orgain, Sarah Warren Orgain, Catherine Ewing McFadden and William Lucius Heath Harrison. In these cases, the names are still clues, for no answers have yet surfaced to explain the presence of these surnames as middle names. One Virginian, Archer Allen Coleman, seems to bear the maiden names of his maternal grandmother and great-grandmother.

A census record sometimes suggests a wife's maiden name by the presence of a person with a different surname living next door to or with the family. Johnson Godwin, living with George and Effie Keahey in 1870, turned out to be Effie's father. Elizabeth Brelsford, living with Young and Gracey Colvin in 1860, was Gracey's mother. People listed after the immediate family in a census may be younger brothers or sisters or other relatives of the wife. Similarly, tombstones with different surnames within a family group are sometimes for members of the same family. A tombstone of an earlier generation may be that of the wife's mother or father.

-Excerpted from Unpuzzling Your Past by Emily Anne Croom, $18.99. Reprinted here with permission from the publisher, Betterway Books. Available in bookstores or online.