Fact du jour — Today in history

On July 24, 1534, Jacques Cartier landed at rocky Penouille Point on the Gaspé coast and erected a 10-metre high cross, bearing the fleur-de-lys and motto “Vive le Roy de France,” taking possession of the mainland of Canada in the name of King François I.

Source: Today in Canadian History.
Jacques Cartier at Gaspé, 1534. Charles W. Simpson, 1929. Library and Archives Canada collection, Online MIKAN no. 2837262.

Jacques Cartier at Gaspé, 1534. Charles W. Simpson, 1929. Library and Archives Canada collection, Online MIKAN no. 2837262.

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Survey results indicate genealogists join societies for camaraderie

Listening_MicrosoftAre you listening, genealogical societies? Here are the results to last week’s survey question: What are the most important factors that make you decide to join a genealogy society? 

Due to publicity on blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, 490 people participated in the survey that provided 37 multiple-choice answers. More than 40 people checked the Other box and provided additional responses.

Many thanks to all who participated and to those who promoted the survey.

Focus on camaraderie, resources, and newsletter – at an affordable price
According to the results of this survey, if your society wants to increase membership, it should focus efforts to build camaraderie, encourage members to share and learn from each other, develop the library’s resources, maintain/increase the content and quality of its newsletter, provide lectures, and offer an affordable membership fee.

Most important factors
The top two reasons people join a society are for the people. While genealogists often do much of their research alone, it perhaps comes as no surprise that close to a majority of respondents — about 60 percent — join societies for the opportunity to meet people and learn from others. Forty-five percent also said “research assistance and guidance” is an important factor and 40 percent join because members are friendly and helpful.

The number three reason genealogists join societies is to “improve my research skills” (54%).  As for organized opportunities to learn, only lectures appear in the top ten. Is this because lectures are often free for members? Is it the frequency of lectures that encourage people to join?

Cost is also an important factor, suggested by 45 percent of respondents who selected “affordable membership fee.”

Other top ten factors are the library’s resources (47%), newsletter (46%), and remote access to members only databases (40%).

1. Opportunity to network with people passionate about genealogy – 61%

2. Opportunity to meet knowledgeable members to help me – 59%

3. I want to improve my research skills – 54%

4. Society focused on area where my ancestors lived – 48%.

5. Library’s resources (books, computers, microfilm) – 47%

6. Informative newsletter/journal/magazine – 46%

7. Research assistance and guidance – 45%

8. Affordable membership fee – 44%

9. Lectures – 43%

10. Members are friendly and helpful – 40%

10. Remote access to “members only” online databases – 40%


Learning opportunities not a huge factor
Other learning opportunities, such as conferences (36%), workshops (34%), and webinars (24%), appear in the top 20, however, they are not among the top factors one may expect, given the amount of work and cost required from a society.

While only one if five respondents chose message boards (21%) and free queries (20%), significantly more people (31%) prefer the ability to post to a surname research database.

Member discounts and advocacy attract few
Way down the list are member discounts, ranging from 10 to 18 percent. Although many respondents indicated they join societies to network with other genealogists, they appear much less interested in field trips (15%) and social events (11%). Very few respondents join a society for its advocacy program, partnerships, or board of directors.

11. I want to help fellow genealogists – 36%

11. Conferences – 36%

12. Workshops – 34%

13. Ability to post to surname research database – 31%

14. Email communication with members bout activities, resources, and news – 25%

15. Webinars – 24%


16. I live near the society – 23%

17. Message board for members – 21%

18. Variety of special interest groups – 20%

18. Free queries – 20%

19. Member discounts on lecturers, seminars, and workshops – 18%

19. Volunteer opportunities – 18%

20. Society is a leader in the field of genealogy – 17%


21. Field trips – 15%

21. Member discounts on conferences – 15%

22. Member discounts on commercial databases – 13%

22. Society partners with other organizations – 13%

23. Member discounts on books and magazines – 12%

24. Recommendation from a friend – 11%

24. Social activities – 11%

24. Society recognizes volunteers’ contributions – 11%


25. Member discounts on research – 10%

26. Other (these factors will be listed tomorrow) – 9%

27. Useful new member packages – 8%

27. I want to provide financial support – 8%

28. Society has an advocacy program – 7%

29. Society’s board of directors – 2%


Tomorrow, I will list the Other factors respondents provided.

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Savoir faire — Online “This Day in History” calendar

The Centre d’archives de la région de Thetford in Quebec has created a low-cost, online This Day in History-type calendar that genealogical and historical societies may want to consider producing for their website. Called Une histoire au quotidien (Daily History), the calendar is a collection of historical events that took place in the town of Thetford Mines since asbestos was first discovered in the region. Many of the events are illustrated with a photo that can be enlarged by clicking on it.

Even if you do not read French, you can easily figure out how the calendar works. For example, click on today’s date, July 23, and you will discover that on this day in 1939 Benson James Bennett, the first mayor of Thetford Mines, died.  He was the son of Samuel James Bennett and Elizabeth Mary Fair. He is buried in Saint-Alphonse Cemetery in Thetford Mines. As you can see below, his photo appears next to this information, and there are two other dates in history.

Image of July 23.

Image of July 23.

The calendar contains 1,050 events and more than 350 photos. The Archival Centre intends to regularly update the calendar with future events and new discoveries. They hope that anyone with historical information and/or photos will contact them at: archives@cegepth.qc.ca.

The calendar was produced in collaboration with the Société de généalogie et d’histoire de la région de Thetford Mines and the Town of  Thetford Mines.

You can see the online calendar here.

Savoir faire posts are about genealogical societies’ good ideas. These posts are about organizations that know how to do it. 

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More than 50,000 expected to attend the World Acadian Congress in August

Are you related to the great Acadian family or would like to be part of it? New Brunswick invites you to the Congrès mondial acadien (World Acadian Congress), an event that will bring together Acadians and their friends from around the world, from August 8 to 24. Held every 5 years, the event takes place in the weeks surrounding August 15, the National Day of Acadia. The first congress was held in 1994 in southeastern New Brunswick, followed by Lousiana in 1999, Nova Scotia in 2004, and the Acadian Peninsula in 2009.

Couleur PantoneMore than 50,000 visitors are expected to attend the congress, hosted by the “Acadia of the Land and Forests,” encompassing 50 Acadian and Brayonne municipalities in northwestern New Brunswick, Maine’s Aroostook County, and the Témiscouata region of Quebec.


Information about the event is available on the Congrès mondial acadien website.

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Global Genealogy holds summer sale

Our friends at Global Genealogy are holding an exclusive summer sale for subscribers to its email newsletter. Subscribers can save 20 percent on all of Global Genealogy’s products, including books.

To take advantage of the discount, you must order on their website from now until midnight Sunday, July 27, 2014. Just enter the coupon code (Subscriber) into the provided blank in their shopping cart while checking out, and then click on the APPLY button. The shopping cart will automatically discount your product prices by 20 percent.

You can subscribe to Global Genealogy’s email newsletter on their website here. (See the top right corner on their site.)

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ACGS conference offers French Canadian research workshop

The American Canadian Genealogical Society’s 2014 Fall Conference and Annual Meeting takes place Saturday, September 27, in Manchester, New Hampshire. The pre-September 15 fee includes three workshops, continental breakfast, and lunch. Michel Leclerc will conduct the afternoon workshop about Advanced French-Canadian Research.

To learn more about the conference, visit the ACGS conference page.

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New season of Who Do You Think You Are? begins July 23

The fifth season of the American edition of the celebrity genealogy series, Who Do You Think You Are?, begins Wednesday, July 23, on TLC. The six new episodes will feature Valerie Bertinelli, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Lauren Graham, Kelsey Grammer, Cynthia Nixon, and Canadian actress Rachel McAdams and her sister Kayleen McAdams.

Dont forget

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Historic walking tours in Ontario’s Prince Edward County

If you live in Prince Edward County or plan to visit this picturesque area this summer, you may want to join the following historical walking tours offered in July and August.

Milford Meanderings Walking Tour: Thursday nights 6:30 p.m. – 1.5 hours walking tour through the charming village of Milford, aptly named as it was once home to saw, grist and carding mills in the settlement’s earliest days.

Graveyard & Gallows Walking Tour: Friday nights in Picton. 6:30 p.m. – 1.5 hours walking tour through the grounds and graveyard at Macaulay Heritage Park, venturing on to the neighbouring County Gaol & Gallows, the site of a most notorious double hanging in 1884.

Wellington Walkabout Tour: Saturday mornings 10 a.m. – 1.5 hr. walking tours through the rich history of Wellington village on the shore of Lake Ontario with architectural highlights and fascinating stories that will make you love the village all the more.

Ameliasburg Village Walking Tour: Sunday mornings 11 a.m. – 1.5 hour walking tour through the village of Ameliasburgh, formerly Roblin’s Mills. Along the shores of Roblin Lake, there is a quiet little community with a big history. The village is a hidden gem in Prince Edward County and beloved home of the late Canadian poet Al Purdy.

Tours are booked through The Regent Theatre, 224 Main St. Picton. 613-476-8416.

Thanks to the Ontario Genealogical Society Quinte Branch for posting this on Facebook.

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Irish civil registration indexes taken offline

Oh, no. Say it isn’t so. Three weeks after the launch of the General Register Office’s civil registration indexes on IrishGenealogy.ie, the Data Protection Commission has had the entire collection taken offline. I understand the reason, but why didn’t someone think this through months ago.

Read Claire Santry’s blog post on Irish Genealogy News to learn why the indexes were removed.

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Nova Scotia Archives website provides remaining pre-Deportation Acadian church records

Acadian FlagThe Nova Scotia Archives has created a section on its website about the church registers of St. Jean-Baptiste, Annapolis Royal, for the years 1702-1755. These are the only pre-Deportation Acadian parish materials that have survived and remain in Nova Scotia, providing “authentic evidence of the lives lived and the events which occurred there, so long ago.”

Called An Acadian Parish Remembered, this section of the Archives website contains more than 3,550 birth, marriage, and death registers. “Every page within the two registers — over 900 in all — has been digitized and electronically correlated with the database, so that for each transcribed/translated search result, researchers may link to and view the exact entry from the appropriate register.”

The section contains five parts: An Acadian Parish Remembered (introduction); The Surviving Registers; The Database and Its Contents; Interpreting the Registers; and Surname Index.

The Deportation’s impact on Acadians and records
The introduction explains the tragic event that occurred in Acadia more than 250 years ago: “The pivotal event in the history of the Acadian people 〈…〉 came in 1755 with the Grand Dérangement or Expulsion of the Acadians.

“Beginning in the autumn of that year, and continuing intermittently over the next few years, most of the Acadian French — men, women and children — were rounded up by British and New England troops, embarked on waiting transport vessels, and removed from the colony that was their home. The vessels carried them instead to widely dispersed destinations, including New England, the West Indies, Great Britain and France.

“This climactic episode guaranteed the almost complete destruction, loss or alienation of whatever scattered records might have been created within the isolated, agrarian-based communities, and which otherwise might have survived earlier troubles in the colony.”

Visit An Acadian Parish Remembered here.

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