IN THIS EDITION -- JUNE 6, 2002

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Canadian Census Tiptoes onto the Web

 

Canada wasn't about to follow in Britain's footsteps when it came to launching digitized census records online. When the United Kingdom made a big to-do about its 1900 census records Web site's launch in January, so many genealogists visited the site that its servers crashed. Six months later, the site is still offline. So when Canada's National Archives went live with its 1901 census site at www.archives.ca last week, there was no fanfare. So far, the plan has worked; the site is working and searchable.

If you have ancestors who lived in Canada in 1901, this site will become an instant favorite. Here's the best part: It's free! Search by geographic location (unfortunately, you can't search by name), and you can view the original returns that record the age, nationality, religion, profession, income and education of every single resident of Canada on March 31, 1901.

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First Stop, Local Historical Society

 

A tip from Marsha L. Thole of Albuquerque, NM:

"Being a neophyte at genealogy research, I have since learned there are easier ways to obtain information. Now when I visit locations, my first stop is to meet a member of the local historic society. (You don't always know there is one, even with an Internet search.) Had I done that the first time, I could have saved myself a lot of time and aggravation.

"Indeed, the local historic society in Gonzales, Texas (where the first shot for Texas independence was fired, in case you didn't know), was a tremendous wealth of information-with a book on its historic homes, a history of their original owners (one of whom was my great-great-grandfather), the town's history and where to find the land records for my ancestor's property. Another suggestion from them was to contact the county record clerk for information on where to find my ancestors' grave sites. (I gave up after a weekend afternoon looking in sweltering heat-those great folks e-mailed me the information I needed.)

"I had received quotes of $300 a day and more to do a lot of the research I was able to obtain for a couple hours of friendly conversation with the real experts in the town."

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Wisconsin Society Suffers Budget Blows

The Wisconsin Historical Society has not been spared in the current economic recession. In the May/June issue of the society's newsletter, president Patricia Boge announced major layoffs and budget reductions for the upcoming fiscal year. The society will lay off 12 staff members next month and cut six and a half vacant positions. Hardest hit was the society's library and archives; also affected were state historic sites, preservation efforts, the local history office and the historical markers program. Now the society is looking for ways to maintain its library's reputation as the "Library of Congress of the Midwest," which could mean charging fees for use. Learn more about the Wisconsin Historical Society at www.shsw.wisc.edu.
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Scottish Clans and Tartans

 

For many of Scottish heritage, the desire to learn of "their clan and tartan" sparks an interest in tracing their ancestors.

First, let's begin with a warning: Much of what is written in the popular press about Scottish clans and tartans is pure romantic fantasy with almost no basis in history or fact. The popular romantic image of the Scottish Highlander was primarily created in the early 19th century by the writings of Sir Walter Scott and other romantic writers and businessmen who aimed to profit from the sale of supposed clan tartans and kilts.

The clan system and tartans are a fascinating aspect of Scottish history. Lots more details about both subjects can be found in George Way's Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia.

In modern times the clan societies have developed into strong organizations scattered across the world, but they are especially strong in North America. These organizations foster pride in Scottish heritage. They may even be able to help you with your genealogical research. Most of the clan societies have one or more genealogists in their organization. In many ways clan societies have become one-name study groups. They research the main clan name and all allied names associated with that clan name.

Contacting the clan genealogist may provide you with clues for you to follow to document your ancestral tree. Document each step on the family tree as you go along. Do not suddenly accept three hundred years' data on a family tree as fact without obtaining proof. First you have to prove that this is your family line, then you must prove that the information is correct. Yes, this sounds like a lot of work, but it is not as much work as redoing it after later research disproves something. If the information is true, then it should be easy to find the documentation to prove it. If there is a weak link in the information provided, that should become obvious relatively quickly.

For North Americans, the most complete directory of clan society contact information is published annually in April's special directory issue in The Highlander magazine.

-Excerpted from A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Scottish Ancestors by Linda Jonas and Paul Milner, $19.99. Reprinted here with permission from the publisher, Betterway Books. Available in bookstores or online at www.familytreemagazine.com/store/display.asp?id=70538.

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