My 10 favourite genealogy collections and initiatives in 2015

These are my ten favourite new genealogy collections and initiatives in 2015, listed in no particular order.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

1. Online Irish Catholic Parish registers.
There was a lot of excitement in the weeks leading up to the July 8 National Library of Ireland’s release of free online access to 390,000 digitized microfilm images of Catholic parish registers. And then frustration set in as some of us struggled to find relevant registers. Thankfully, several bloggers jumped in to explain how best to research – Bloggers advise how to search the online Irish Catholic parish registers.

2. Saskatchewan WWI newspapers
With no fanfare, the Saskatchewan Archives and the University of Saskatchewan digitized more than 200,000 pages of newspapers published during the First World War in about 100 communities across Saskatchewan. These pages can be searched on Saskatchewan Historic Newspaper Online.

3. McGill student newspapers
Throughout this past summer, the McGill University Library digitization team uploaded 90 years of the student newspaper, the McGill Daily, to Internet Archive. Starting with the first issue published on October 2, 1911, the students uploaded more than 9,800 issues up to 2001, at a rate of a few hundred issues each day. What really impresses me is the digitization team’s ongoing efforts.

4. Nova Scotia Archives
Nova Scotia Archives has produced a lot this year to help genealogists with their research. This year, the Archives added 26,625 birth, marriage, and death records, redesigned its website to make it easier for us to discover and research resources, created a new genealogy guide, and marked the 98th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion with more online content.

5. Map collection
The priceless W.K. Morrison Special Collection of cartographic books and maps, dating back to the 16th century, was digitized and put online by the Nova Scotia Community College’s Centre of Geographic Sciences. In addition to a remarkable collection of early maps of Atlantic Canada, there are maps of New France, British and French settlements in North America, Canada, Hudson Bay, Quebec, Montreal, the US “agreeable to the Peace of 1783,” an 1822 world atlas, England in 1750, Europe, South Africa, and much more.

6. Drouin Institute adds more than 150,000 obituaries to its website
The Drouin Institute added more than 150,000 obituaries to its free obituaries database. Now we have free access to more than 1.7 million obituaries published in newspapers across Canada from 1999 to present. They also improved the obituary search engine.

7. Drouin Institute improves yearly and daily subscriptions
Drouin Institute made two improvements to its yearly and daily subscription services for its Quebec Records website. A 24-hour subscription was introduced for $5.00. The yearly subscription for $100 now has a weekly image limit, instead of daily. To me, one of the best deals remains the monthly subscription for only $13.

8. WWI Canadian service files
In January 2014, Library and Archives Canada announced it plans to digitize 640,000 Canadian Expeditionary Force personnel service files as part of the First World War commemoration activities of the Government of Canada. Since LAC digitized more than 110,000 services files in 2015, this initiative certainly calls for recognition this year.

9. FamilySearch’s Canadian collections
FamilySearch added 27 new and updated Canadian collections. My friend John D. Reid compiled the list on his blog, Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections.

10. Ancestry’s Canadian collections
Ancestry added 15 new Canadian titles with nearly 2.4 million records. John D. Reid compiled the list on his blog, Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections.

Honourable mention
Genealogy Research Toolbox
This summer, I took a break from gardening to create my Genealogy Research Toolbox that contains several categories: General, Canada, Quebec/New France, Acadia, City Directories, Newspapers, Military, Cemeteries, Photos, Genealogy Education, and Online Books and Theses, Methodology, and Social Media. These are the online resources I use the most for my research, and I hope they help you.

Did I miss anything?
What would you have included in this list? Let me know.

All the best to you and yours in 2016.

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