Free access to’s entire collection until Monday

Access to’s entire collection is now free until Monday, February 19, 11:59 p.m. Mountain time, using this link. You must start your search from the Free Access page.

It doesn’t appear that you need to set up an account to search, clip, and save. is the largest online newspaper archive. If curious to see which newspapers are available on the site, visit the Papers page and select the country and location that interests you. Or click on the Search tab to Browse what is available location by location.

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NEHGS hosts hybrid presentation this Thursday on records and resources at Library and Archives Canada 

The New England Historic Genealogical Society will host a free hybrid presentation on Records and Resources at Library and Archives Canada, delivered by Rhonda McClure, on Thursday, February 15, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. It will be held online and onsite in Boston.

No matter what province your Canadian ancestors are from, the Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa holds a goldmine of records for family historians—both online and onsite. Join Senior Genealogist Rhonda R. McClure for an introduction to what records are available, how to use the online catalog and online research guides, and how to plan a research visit to the repository.

Register here.

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Free access to marriage records on MyHeritage includes a collection unique to Quebec

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, MyHeritage is offering free access to its collection of marriage records until February 17.

Access to these records usually requires a Complete or Data subscription, but for five days, they’re completely free to search. Simply register for a free MyHeritage account to begin.

Quebec collection worth exploring
One of my favourite collections available on MyHeritage is Quebec Marriage Returns, 1926-1997. These are not marriage registrations, but records created for statistical purposes by the provincial health department.

These statistical returns (forms), numbering almost eight million, are unique to Quebec. They were completed by members of the clergy or officiants who conducted a marriage in order for the government to compile statistics.

From 1926 to 1997, the provincial government of Quebec introduced four or five different statistical return forms, each with its own set of questions. Some years, more information was required than others.

The information provided included the bride and groom’s date and location of birth, place of residence before and after marriage, occupation and employer’s name, religion, citizenship, racial origin, father’s location of birth, and where the marriage took place. Some forms also include the names of the witnesses and whether or not the bridal couple could read or write.

Quebec collection — Search tip
Sometimes names are misspelled in the indexing, so try variations and also try searching by only the surname or first name. And remember not every officiant submitted a form for every marriage performed.

Quebec collection — Researcher beware
As with a number of records genealogists research, the information in these statistical returns is only as accurate as what the informant provided. In the case of my brother-in-law’s marriage return, he indicated his father was born in Hearst, Ontario. While his father did move to Hearst with his parents and siblings when he was about five years old, he was born in Montreal.

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Ontario Ancestors’ free virtual presentations this week

There’s a good collection of virtual presentations this week from Ontario Ancestors. As usual, all are open to the public and, with the exception of a two-part workshop noted at the end of this blog post, they are free.

The following times are in Eastern time.

Monday, February 12, 7:00 p.m. — Oxford County Branch
Hunting for Hidden History: How Slavery Came to the Town of York by Hilary Dawson

How do you find out about people who had no rights, rarely appear in the public record and for the most part were illiterate? Where do you look for information about the disadvantaged who did not receive direct payment for their work, and who had little control over their own lives? How can we uncover the stories of indentured servants and enslaved Africans?

Hilary Dawson will explain where she found personal papers and other manuscripts, and show how she used them to piece together the stories of the Pompadour family, Henry Prince and others who were regarded as “property” by York slaveholders like Peter Russell and William Jarvis. Register to watch online.

Tuesday, February 13, 7:00 p.m. — Essex County Branch
We Were Here: The McDougall Street Corridor by Willow Key

Though only a few traces of this once vibrant, bustling downtown Black neighbourhood remain, the community’s legacy remains strong. The story of the McDougall Street Corridor showcases this city’s rich Black history but also demonstrates the devastating impacts of city planning and urban renewal efforts on a historic neighbourhood. We Were Here offers a collection of essays, images, maps, artifacts, and documents that depict this community, and invites you to learn more about a vital chapter in Canadian history.

Willow Key will discuss Windsor’s little-known rich Black history of this historic neighbourhood. Register to watch online.

Tuesday, February 13, 6:30 p.m. — Lambton County Branch
Common problems; possible solutions by Kirsty Gray

Researching into the past often feels like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes the picture is created quickly, and the pieces fall into place with consummate ease but, more often than not, there are various and numerous challenges. Do you have a stand-out name in your ancestry which should be simple to locate in the records but is not? Or maybe you have a common surname or two in your history which makes your forebear difficult to pin down with any degree of certainty? Or worse still, an individual or family who changes their surname without warning or record? Then this talk is a must as it will provide many possible solutions based on first-hand experience from over three decades of Kirsty’s world of being The People-Finding Magician. Register to watch online.

Wednesday, February 14, 1:00 p.m. — Kawartha Branch
Archives of Ontario by Emma Robinson

Emma will share information to assist with understanding the basics of archival research and how to locate and access the records in the Archives of Ontario’s collections. Register online with the Peterborough Public Library.

Saturday, February 17, 10:30 a.m. — Kingston Branch
Scotland: Genealogical & Historical Resources and Records by Amy Gilpin

If you have Scottish roots, join me for an in depth review of Scottish resources. This presentation focuses on online resources for your Scottish research, including Scotland’s People, Scotland’s Places, and Internet Archives. This presentation will be preceded by the branch’s AGM at 10:00 a.m. Register here to watch this presentation online.

Saturday, February 17, 1:00 p.m. — Ottawa Branch
Analyzing Census Records Using Spreadsheets by Tara Shymanski

Spreadsheets make analyzing census records easier. Learn to create a spreadsheet and manipulate data to reveal actual and implied information from census records. Register to watch online.

Saturday, February 17, 1:00 p.m. — Quinte Branch
What’s in a Name — A Cultural Perspective by Paula Crooks

A name is usually the first gift a child is given. It marks the beginning of the paper trail that will document the child’s life. Understanding how and why a child was named can unlock clues not only about the life of that child, but also about the lives of his or her ancestors.

This seminar presents a cross-cultural perspective of naming traditions and discusses how knowing your culture’s naming customs can help you in your genealogical research. Topics will include cultural naming traditions, family and clan names, individual and first names, traditional naming patterns, anglicization of names, nicknames, and name changes. You will also learn how to use name clues to help break down brick walls. Register to watch online.

The Toronto Branch will host the two-part course, Tips and Tricks for Reading Old Handwriting, led by Diane C. Loosle, on February 15 and 22. The fee is $20 for members and $25 for non-members.

A two-part online course looking at how to solve the problems genealogists encounter when trying to read handwriting in old documents. The course will focus on handwriting in English from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The course leader will assign practice readings for the second class—yes, homework!

Once you are registered, you will have the opportunity to submit a hard-to-decipher document from your own research for expert help. Register and submit early to be considered. 

The two sessions, including discussion, will be recorded and archived for a limited time for those who can’t participate in the live Zoom sessions. Register here.

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This week’s crème de la crème — February 10, 2024

Some of the bijoux I discovered this week.

Crème de la crème of genealogy blogs

Blog posts
How to navigate Order-in-Council records, part one: real life at LAC by Linda Yip on Past Presence.

Finding on the Ground: Northern Ontario Districts by Ken McKinlay on Family Tree Knots.

Broadening Access to Canada’s National Registration File of 1940 by John Reid on Anglo-Celtic Connections.

Dutch Genealogy News for February 2024 by Yvette Hoitink on Dutch Genealogy.

Find Out How Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce are Distantly Related by Christopher C. Child on Vita Brevis.

Genealogy Records Off the Beaten Path by Melissa Barker on A Genealogist In The Archive.

Comparing Bite-Sized Family History Photo Books and Donating the Hermit Club Book by Marian Burk Wood on Climbing My Family Tree.

Gemini – Google’s AI Now Available in Canada by Ken McKinlay on Family Tree Knots.

Can Artificial Intelligence Read Russian Handwriting? by Louis Kessler on Behold Genealogy.

Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) For Genealogy (Part Three) by Ellen Thompson-Jennings on Hound on the Hunt.

Ancestry’s ThruLines and Shared Matches Now Require a Subscription by Roberta Estes on DNAeXplained.

What are the Odds v3 sneak peak by Jonny Perl on DNA Painter Blog.

Mystery solved: Owner of Campbell River wallpaper family tree found by Dean Stoltz, CHEK News, Victoria, British Columbia.

Familial DNA searches come with risks, rewards in solving MMIWG cold cases by Ozten Shebahkeget, CBC News, Manitoba.

NIAGARA GENEALOGY: Our ancestors were part of history by Carol DiPirro-Stipkovits, Union-Sun & Journal, Lockport, New York.

23andMe is low on cash and its stock is worth pennies. The CEO wants another chance by Nicole Goodkind, CNN, New York, New York.

Giuliana Letard Ciantar collection to be digitised in agreement between Ancestry, National Archives, Independant, Malta.

For more gems like these throughout the week, join the Genealogy à la carte Facebook group. When you submit your request to join, you will be asked to answer two quick questions about your family history research.

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Virtual BIFHSGO meeting this Saturday about British census records and female ancestors

The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) always hosts good monthly meetings, and this month looks equally good. The meeting is free and open to all who register for this virtual meeting.

Kicking off the meeting on Saturday, February 10 is Ken McKinlay with his Back to Basics series about British census records, followed by Diane Rogers’ presentation about finding female ancestors.

9:00 a.m.
Back to Basics series — Census Records by Ken McKinlay 

We will be looking at the various census records, and possible census substitutes, that can help us research our ancestors from the British Isles

10:00 a.m.
Researching Female Ancestors What Could They Tell Us?  by Diane Rogers

Researching female ancestors can be frustrating. Sometimes even their obituaries say almost nothing. Diane will provide examples of strategies to use in searching genealogical sources for information about women and in learning about women’s history resources.

Register to watch the presentations online.

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Huge update on PRDH — More than one million new files

The Drouin Institute this morning made one of its largest updates to one of the most important databases for Quebec research — the Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH – Research Programme in Historical Demography).

subscription to now provides access to all French Canadian individuals and families who lived in Quebec from the very beginning of the French colony up to 1861. Until today, the collection went as far as 1851.

This update adds a decade of coverage to the database, and represents the addition of 738,696 vital records, 544,537 individuals and 94,264 families.

PRDH is a database of all Catholic baptisms, marriages and burials recorded in Quebec between 1621 and 1861, as well as a genealogical dictionary of families commonly known as “family reconstructions.” It does include some Protestant records.

On PRDH, researchers can find entire families through a series of hyperlinks. Click on the Family link to see the names of the individual’s parents and siblings, along with their dates of baptism, marriage and burial. From there, you can go back even farther.

In 1966, the Programme de recherche en démographie historique at the Université de Montréal undertook the massive task to reconstruct the European population of Quebec from the beginning of New France to the early 1800s.

Once you get back to the late 1700s on PRDH, you can practically leap back in your ancestry.

The information on the site has been proven, although there may still be some errors. As usual, always check more than one source.

Without a subscription, you can do some things for free. Just click on the public access link on the home page to see what’s available. It’s also possible your public library provides full access to the site.

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Ontario marriage records for 1940 now on Ancestry

Let the wedding bells ring!

Ancestry has added 247,918  Ontario marriage registrations for 1940 to its collection, Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1826-1940. These records are from the Archives of Ontario.

If you subscribe to, Ancestry’s World Explorer or the All Access package, you’ll be able to search this Ontario marriage collection.

Civil registration of marriages began province-wide in 1869, so you’re unlikely to find too many records in this collection before that year.

One day perhaps, these records will be added to FamilySearch. For now, you’ll have to limit your search to Ontario marriages from 1869 to 1927. FamilySearch’s collection of Ontario marriages was last updated in 2015.

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California Genealogical Society’s virtual presentation features French Canadian research

The California Genealogical Society will host a hybrid meeting — in person and online — during which Jane Lindsey will deliver her presentation, Beginning French Canadian Research, on Wednesday, February 7, at 11:00 a.m. Pacific time. The meeting will take place at the Oakland FamilySearch Center (OFSC).

Learn about the excellent books available at OFSC (Tanguay, Jetté & more ); how to use the digital files of Quebec church records on FamilySearch and; what is a “dit” name; and tips to search records. Jane’s grandmother is from Quebec. She used French Canadian records before they were digitized.

Registration for this presentation is free for society members and non-members.

This presentation is one in a series of “fun, informal discussions on a variety of topics” hosted by the California Genealogical Society OFSC volunteers.

Take a look at the lengthy list of upcoming presentations in the registration link above.

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Ontario Ancestors’ free webinars this week

Three of Ontario Ancestors’ branches and a special interest group are hosting free webinars this week, and they’re all open to those who register. There’s a good range of topics that will interest many.

The following times are in Eastern time.

Monday, February 5, 7:00 p.m. — Leeds & Grenville Branch
History of Slavery along the St. Lawrence River by Jennifer de Bruin

This presentation explores the connection of this region to the history of slavery in North America. While information on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, and a brief history of slavery in Canada and the US will provide an understanding of the magnitude of this tragic institution, it most importantly gives a voice to those who were enslaved. Together we’ll journey through time to discover the harrowing experiences of the thousands of enslaved men, women and children who fought for freedom in the courts, fled from enslavement on the Underground Railroad (routes that crossed through Quebec/Eastern Ontario), and eventually settled in Ontario.  An environment of learning and openness, this presentation provides an excellent opportunity to ask questions and get answers or more resources for learning. Register to watch online.

Tuesday, February 6, 7:30 p.m. — Durham Region Branch
Between Friends / Entre Amis: Cousins Across the Border by Dave Obee

Many of us have cousins in another country, and many Canadians and Americans have family members across that long, undefended border. This talk gives some examples of cross-border ties, along with advice on how to search in the other country. It could be that clues in one country can help solve genealogical mysteries in the other. And yes, DNA testing is helping us to find relatives we did not know we had. Register to watch online.

Wednesday, February 7, 7:30 p.m. — Huron County Branch
OnLand from a Genealogist’s Perspective by Ken McKinlay

Once we know where our ancestors lived in Ontario, the next step is to see if we can find the land records, such as deeds and even wills. In this presentation, we will be taking a look at the Ontario Land Property Records Portal, AKA OnLand, to help us research where our ancestors lived. Using OnLand, we will look at the various historical books, try to find a property in an urban area, and even walk through placing an order for an instrument. Register to watch online.

Saturay, February 10, 11:00 a.m. — Irish Palatine SIG
The Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland Project by Dr. Brian Gurrin

Dr. Gurrin will introduce the Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland project and speak about the destruction of the Public Record Office in 1922, with a particular emphasis on the records for the Palatines, which were located in the Archive before it was destroyed. He will describe some of the surviving records for the Palatines, which are available to researchers via the Virtual Record Treasury, including the relevant surviving returns from the 1766 religious census of Ireland, the greatest survey held in Ireland between the Down Survey of the 1650s and the national censuses of Ireland of the nineteenth century. He will also introduce some records which may find their way into the Treasury during this phase of the project. Register to watch online.

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