New exhibit in Connecticut tells story of Montreal’s Grey Nuns who helped the Famine Irish

Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut will open a new exhibition, Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger, on Wednesday, April 1, in the university’s Arnold Bernhard Library.

The exhibition tells the story of the religious order in Montreal whose members gave selflessly to Irish immigrants during the summer of 1847.

Many thousands of people fled from Ireland during the Great Famine and immigrated to Canada. Famine immigrants to Montreal were not only among the poorest of the poor, but many of them arrived already sick with typhus fever. Despite this, a number of people in the English and French Canadian communities provided the ailing and the dying with shelter and support. In the forefront of this compassionate movement were the Sisters of Charity, also known as the Grey Nuns.

Le Typhus, Théophile Hamel, 1848. This painting, commissioned by the Bishop of Montreal, depicts the Grey Nuns caring for the Irish. It will be on display in the exhibition.

Le Typhus, Théophile Hamel, 1848. This painting, commissioned by the Bishop of Montreal, depicts the Grey Nuns caring for the Irish. It will be on display in the exhibition.

Christine Kinealy, founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac and a professor of history, is presenting the exhibition in collaboration with Jason King, Irish Research Council postdoctoral fellow at Moore Institute at Galway University, and the Arnold Bernhard Library.

Ms. Kinealy said, “The story of the Grey Nuns, and of the other religious orders who helped the dying Irish immigrants, is one of kindness, compassion and true charity. Nonetheless, almost 6,000 Irish immigrants perished in the fever sheds of Montreal. They had fled from famine in Ireland only to die of fever in Canada. This is a remarkable story that deserves to be better known.”

The year-long exhibition will be housed in the Lender Special Collection Room in the Arnold Bernhard Library and will be open to the public from April 1, 2015 to March 18, 2016. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5:00 p.m. For more information, call 203-582-2634.

The exhibition will be officially launched at a private event on Tuesday, March 31, by the Canadian Consul General (New York); Quebec Delegate to New England (Boston); and the Irish Consul General (NYC).

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OGS announces dates and location of 2016 conference

The Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society will host the annual conference in 2016, and they have already announced the dates and location:

June 3 – 5, 2016
International Plaza Hotel, 655 Dixon Road, Toronto, Ontario

The Toronto Branch posted the following information:

Toronto Branch will welcome hundreds of family historians to the largest genealogical conference in Canada. The event will be based at the International Plaza Hotel and conference centre, close to Pearson International Airport, Highway 401, and with good connections by local and regional public transit. Watch for announcements coming summer 2015.

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Sean Hayes travels to Ireland in Who Do You Think You Are? tonight

Sean Hayes’ estranged father has a troubled past, so Sean goes on a journey to discover the root of the problem on Who Do You Think You Are?, airing tonight, Sunday, March 29, at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time, on TLC. His journey takes him to Chicago and Ireland.

Hayes’ excitement at touching original documents and standing where his ancestors stood will not disappoint.

Sean Hayes follows his ancestral trail to Ireland on Who Do You Think You Are? Photo credit: TLC.

Sean Hayes follows his ancestral trail to Ireland on Who Do You Think You Are? Photo credit: TLC.

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This week’s crème de la crème — March 28, 2015

Some of the bijoux I discovered this week.

Finding/Researching Your Canadian World War I Soldier Ancestor on OGS Blog.

Jean Talon, Intendant of New France, 1665–1672 on Library and Archives Canada Blog.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #12 Charles Tourville (1818-1847) by Diane Tourville on Genealogy on my Mind.

Heritage Designation for Black Cemetery by Lorine McGinnis Schulze on Olive Tree Genealogy.

Souvenir Books by Dianne Nolin on Genealogy: Beyond the BMD.

Monthly Meeting OR Speaker Series? by Elizabeth Lapointe on GenealogyCanada.

10 Ways Your Genealogy Society Might Be Driving Away Visitors by Amy Johnson Crow on No Story Too Small.

Butcher, Baker, Cabinet Maker?: Not all Irishmen were farmers by Jennifer Geraghty-Gorman on ‘On a flesh and bone foundation': An Irish History.

The Kelly family: Famine refugees who outwitted the Poor Law authorities by John Herson on Divergent Paths.

The Scottish Naming Pattern: Keeping the Families Aligned by Christine Woodcock on The In-Depth Genealogist.

8 Common Types of Vintage Photos to Help You Identify the Past on Crestleaf.

How to Find Cemeteries in Google Earth by Lisa Louise Cooke on Genealogy Gems.

Archaeological survey turns up nothing at downtown Montreal site, CBC, and Aucune fouille archéologique au 900, boul. de Maisonneuve by Philippe Orfali, Le Devoir, Montreal.

Be Irish for more than one day: Support our Irish Monument Park Foundation by Jillian Clark, Montreal Times.

Ont. girl’s never-ending quest to honour war hero by Alexandra Moscato, Ottawa Sun.

Peace County digital database project growing by Alexa Huffman, Grande Prairie (Alberta) Daily Herald-Tribune.

Acadian History-Part 1B: Pre-Deportation-1  by Sandra Goodwin on Maple Stars and Stripes.

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OGS Hamilton branch’s meeting about Irish research available on YouTube

Hamilton branch OGS logoLast night the Ontario Genealogical Society Hamilton Branch broadcast its monthly meeting live on YouTube. The meeting featured Ruth Blair, who delivered an excellent presentation, called Researching Irish family from this side of the pond.

Ms. Blair’s presentation is ideal for anyone who has ancestors from Ireland who settled in Canada. I particularly liked the part about how to find a land reference in Schedule 4 in the 1871 Canada Census and why you should hope your ancestor was a landowner that year.

If you missed the live broadcast, you can watch the recorded version anytime on the branch’s YouTube channel.

Hamilton Branch is still relatively new at live streaming, which probably explains why there was a wee bit of a technical hiccup with the sound at the beginning. Fortunately, the technical issues were resolved at the 10-minute mark, just in time to introduce Ms. Blair.

If I may make a suggestion to genealogical societies posting videos on YouTube, please write a description of the presentation and identify the person who introduces the speaker. Also take advantage of the About section on your channel to promote your society. Write a short paragraph that describes your society so that people around the world will understand who and where you are, and always include your website address.

Ruth Blair’s presentation, Researching Irish family from this side of the pond, starts at the 10-minute mark.

Hamilton Branch’s YouTube Channel.
Note that the next live-streamed presentation will be Using the Family Search Historical Records Collectionon, presented by Tim Bingaman, on April 16.

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University of Guelph’s extensive Scottish chapbook collection goes online

The University of Guelph and the Centre for Scottish Studies yesterday launched a website to showcase the university’s collection of rare Scottish chapbooks.

These popular booklets, written in the 18th and 19th centuries, contain songs, poems, and short stories. They were sold throughout Scotland by peddlers, called chapmen, before newspapers and other periodicals became widely available.

Collections librarian Melissa McAfee said, “The new website provides free online access to about 600 chapbooks in the U of G library archives — it’s the second-largest collection in North America.”

The website is a collaboration between the U of G Library’s Archival & Special Collections and the Department of History.

A description on the website explains: “Chapbooks were pamphlets of eight to twenty-four pages . . . They featured popular stories of romance, travel, comedy, politics, fairy tales, religion, social customs, and history. Chapbooks were cheap (hence the name ch(e)apbook) and served a market for reading material. They were particularly popular in Scotland, where the songs, ballads, poems, and short stories appealed to a population that was highly literate by European standards.”

You can search or browse the online collection. One of the chapbooks featured is The History of Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper, published in 1852 in Glasgow.

The History of Cinderella is one of more than 600 rare Scottish chapbooks held at the University of Guelph. Image: Scottish Chapbooks, University of Guelph,

The History of Cinderella is one of more than 600 rare Scottish chapbooks held at the University of Guelph. Image: Scottish Chapbooks, University of Guelph,

The website also contains digital exhibits and teaching modules for high school history and English teachers with “plans and activities exploring the stories of Cinderella, Mary Queen of Scots and William Wallace.”

While this website will not help us add names and dates to our family tree, it does help us better understand our Scottish ancestors and what may have interested and amused them, and that is almost as important.

Visit the Scottish Chapbooks website to learn more.

Outside of the United Kingdom, U of G has the world’s largest rare book and archival collection on Scottish history, and runs the largest Scottish studies program. U of G is located in Ontario.

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Winner for best slogan for the Semaine nationale de la généalogie 2015 is…

The results are in for best slogan or tagline for this year’s Semaine nationale de la généalogie (National Genealogy Week) in Quebec.

The winner, with my rough English translation in brackets, is La mémoire en partage (Shared memory). Forty-one percent (184 votes) chose this slogan.

Coming in second with 32.3 percent (145 votes) was Et si l’on se rassemblait… (And if we gathered together...)

And number three with 26.7 percent (120 votes) of the votes was La généalogie, une histoire d’amour (Genealogy, a love story or perhaps Genealogy, a history of love)

The survey was conducted by the Fédération québécoise des sociétés de généalogie.

The fourth annual Semaine nationale de la généalogie will take place November 21 to 28, 2015. Last year more than 30 societies and archival centres across the province took part, holding open houses, tours, and workshops.

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18th-century cemetery found in Montreal’s Pointe-aux-Trembles

During an archaeological dig early last summer, scientists discovered the remains of an 18th-century French cemetery in Pointe-aux-Trembles, a neighbourhood in the east end of Montreal. The cemetery was used from 1709 to 1843.

The scientists uncovered about 60 remains along with several artifacts, all near the new Maison du Citoyen at the corner of boulevard Saint-Jean-Baptiste and rue Notre-Dame.

The Maison du Citoyen is housed in a former convent, owned until a few years ago by the Notre-Dame Congregation. Next to the Maison du Citoyen is the Saint-Enfant-Jésus Catholic Church. The parish’s first church was built around 1705, between the monastery and the river. In 1937, the church burned down and was rebuilt in 1939 on rue Notre-Dame.

Archaeologist Rebecca Janson said, “The bones we found were very well preserved, which is highly unusual. Eight of the 68 skeletons were intact. The others were missing some bones in the extremities, but nothing major.”

The section of the cemetery that was uncovered is located on a strip of land that measures two by 15 metres (six by 45 feet).

The bodies of 23 adults, including three elderly people, were found at the the excavation site. So far, the remains of 12 women and four men have been identified. The other remains belong to about 40 children of which about 12 were fetuses.

Robert Larocque, bio-archaeologist responsible for the excavation, said that scientific studies will be carried out to determine the lifestyles of the deceased and what may have caused their death.

Among the objects uncovered were coffins, pins, cufflinks, a rosary, and part of a pipe. These objects and others may eventually be put on display in the Maison du Citoyen.

Photos and more information are available in the Montreal Métro article, Un cimetière des années 1700 retrouvé à Pointe-aux-Trembles.

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BCGS all-day seminar with Jill Morelli

BCGS logoThe British Columbia Genealogical Society will hold an all-day seminar with Jill Morelli on Saturday, May 9.

Ms. Morelli will present the following topics:

The “Push” and the “Pull”: Emigration Decision-Making in the 19th Century. From Scandinavia to the United States in the mid 1800s: two case studies – one Norwegian and one Swedish – but interesting for anyone with European roots.

I Found My Family on the Internet! Now what do I do? Explore four major internet locations and learn what to look for to determine whether it is worth using, and analyzing the records.

Discovering the “Other” Censuses: State and Non-Population Enumerations. This session will explore the US census records, and their value to researchers.

Soldiers, Spies & Farm Wives: the Changing Roles of Women During the Civil War! More a history lecture than genealogy, but goes into the Civil War and women’s roles. Researchers with Daughters or Sons of the American Revolution connections should find this very interesting.

Early bird prices until April 15: $44 for BCGS and Affiliate (Society) members; $55 for non-members. After April 15, the prices increase to $55 for BCGS and Affiliate (Society) members; $65 for non-members.

Time: Doors open at 10:00 a.m. Seminar runs from 10:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m.

Location: South Arm United Church, 11051 No. 3 Road, Richmond, BC.

Refreshments and lunch are included.

To learn more and register, visit the BCGS website.

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New park to honour Toronto doctor who helped Irish immigrants during Great Famine

A new park will be erected in downtown Toronto in memory of those who helped Irish immigrants who fled the Great Famine in Ireland in the 1840s. It will be located in front of a 47-storey condo at the corner of Adelaide and Widmer Streets.

The park will be named in honour of Dr. George Robert Grasett who in 1847 was the chief medical officer at Toronto’s Emigrant Hospital, which was located near the site of the new park.

CBC reported, “In the summer of 1847 some 38,000 migrants passed through Toronto, a city of only 20,000 at the time. By the end of the year more than 1,100 had died of typhus, many in the fever sheds constructed by the Toronto Board of Health at the northwest corner of King and John Streets.”

A summary of an August 2014 Toronto City Council motion stated: “Despite the prevailing anti-Catholic bigotry in Toronto at the time, physician George Robert Grasett worked tirelessly … along with a staff of orderlies and nurses, to care for the overwhelming numbers of people with typhus. Dr. Grasett died from the infection himself on July 16, 1847.”

The park will also be dedicated to Dr. Grasett’s colleagues, Susan Bailey and Edward McElderry, who also treated the sick.

A contest is currently underway to determine the park’s design.

The city will contribute $600,000 to the project, while $150,000 will come from the Irish government.

Learn more in the CBC report.

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