“Lost” Irish Census Records Online

The explosion and fire at the Public Record Office at Dublin’s Four Courts during the Irish Civil War wiped out hundreds of years of records going back as far as medieval times, including most of the census records from 1821 forward thirty years.

British Lancia armoured police vehicles outside the wreckage of the Hammond Hotel in O’Connell Street, Dublin during the Irish Civil War in July 1922. Photograph: Brooke/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

British Lancia armoured police vehicles outside the wreckage of the Hammond Hotel in O’Connell Street, Dublin during the Irish Civil War in July 1922. Photograph: Brooke/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Who perpetrated the incident on the afternoon of June 30, 1922? No answer has ever been established. Some blame the national army which was shelling the anti-Treaty forces who were occupying the Four Courts; others believe the anti-Treaty forces deliberately blew up the records in an act of defiance of the new State.

Contrary to the general perception though, not all the census records were lost. Now, for the first time, the records which survived will be made available to the public online. They contain partial census records from 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851.

1821: Some 250,000 census records relating to the counties of Cavan, Meath, Galway and Offaly from 1821 survive.

1831: The 1831 census records for County Derry mostly survived.

1841: the last census before the Famine, a section of the Cavan records survived.

1851: substantial records from both Antrim and Dublin remain intact.

Another valuable source of information released are the thousands of pension application forms from 1909. In order to be eligible for the first State pension, you had to prove you were 70 — and that could only be done through the census records. A civil register of births was not introduced until 1864.

NatlArchivesIrlIn total some 629,000 records of the estimated 12 million that were in the public record office before the explosion are now available to the public to view. The project was result of a partnership between the National Archives, FindMyPast.ie and FamilySearch.org.

The National Archives of Ireland census page (link below) offers a nice summary of available census resources and substitute sources of information.

A nice summary of the situation of Irish census materials is also found in the Irish Roots column of John Grenham in The Irish Times here.

See the websites: FindMyPast.ie and census.nationalarchives.ie

–from reporting by Ronan McGreevy, The Irish Times

Tracking Voyageurs Ancestors

Tracking voyageurs ancestors can be a challenge.

My Cadieux ancestors settled in the late 1800s along the Ottawa River in the villages of the Pontiac QC area. The census returns made it clear that they were voyageurs — fur traders. While it was fascinating to discover they were part of that most interesting history of the North American continent — fur trading — how to find out the actual details?

A nice blog that details one person’s research on their voyageurs ancestors is Habitants and Voyageurs.  Its author shares her experiences and helpful techniques in gathering information, and time saving ideas on gathering, copying and saving research information.

The Hudson Bay Company was the royally chartered organization with rights to exploit the fur trade across most of what is modern Canada. Information on its employees, its contracts, and its trading — as well as details on the North West Company, which it acquired — can be found in the Province of Manitoba Archives. This is a rich resource of original documents as well as summaries and biographies prepared by archivists in the process of their work and studies.

I had no luck tracing my Cadieux voyageurs through the Hudson Bay databases. But I hit pay dirt when I consulted the Voyaguers Contracts database!

VoyageursDatabaseENThis database is the result of a 20 years of extracting data from reports of the archivist of the Province of Quebec and microfilms of the Protonotaire Montréal Greffes de notaires fonds — the records of the notaries who witnessed and recorded contract agreements. The initial database was started by Alfred Fortier, executive director of the Société historique de Saint-Boniface (1990-2002).

This became the starting point for a more ambitious project undertaken by Dr. Nicole St-Onge of the University of Ottawa and Dr. Robert Englebert of the University of Saskatchewan, assistant director of the project. This project was a component of the National Research Initiative of the Métis National Council.

The Voyageur database comprises some 35,000 fur trade contracts signed in front of Montreal notaries between 1714 and 1830. It is currently the single largest collection of data regarding the contracts signed by men of the Montreal fur trade. The information collected from the contracts includes: family names, parishes of origin, hiring company, length of contract, destinations, advances and wages, supplies, conditions of hire, the name of the notary, date of signing, and miscellaneous notes. The database is also available in French.

For a little of the colour of the voyageurs’ life, a nice short excerpt from the Appleton Journal, A Voyage with the Voyageurs is worth a read (available from archive.org as a PDF download).

LibraryArchivesCanada has a resource page. A number of materials are available for research at the archives.

The Metis Nation of Ontario has information on the marriage of fur traders and native peoples. This page provides material on fur trading, but also has links to other valuable resources.

Almonte Gazette searchable online

Thanks to John D. Reid from his blog Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections for the update that the Almonte Gazette in available now online for the years 1861-1989.
AlmonteGazetteThis thanks to cooperation between the  Mississippi Valley Textile Museum which organized the digitization/indexing and the Almonte Public Library which had previously imaged the town’s newspaper.
Like many local papers the Almonte Gazette is a rich source for social information as well as births, deaths and marriages within the area.
The search page instructions are detailed. Hint: the search times out if too wide a range of years is included.