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Category: Research Tips

Front cover of Spell it Out!

Understanding English

You never know when you are going to bump into a valuable resource for your research. When I was in London a few years ago, I was researching at the British Library. While waiting for a friend, I was perusing the gift shop and found a wonderful book that has proven very important to me.…
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Underwater image of the remains of one of the drowned towns.

Extinct Localities

Locations play an important role in researching our ancestors. Knowing where our ancestors lived directs us to places to find the records that document their lives. While these locations are often easy to identify, it is important to research the area. Because you might find yourself in a situation where, to paraphrase The Princess Bride,…
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525,600 Minutes: Seasons of Genealogy

Many of you may have picked up on the musical allusion in the title of this post as a takeoff on Seasons of Love from the musical Rent. You may have even sung the first part in your head. The beginning of a new year often brings us to reflection of the previous year, and…
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Text from a marriage record indicating a dispensation was given.

Marriage Dispensations in the Catholic Church

When working with French-Canadian Catholic church records, it is very common to come across ancestors who needed a dispensation. This was an approval granted by the bishop or cardinal to suspend the usual rules for Catholics that would prevent the marriage from occurring. Dispensations come in two types: dispensation of banns or dispensation for consanguinity. These…
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Antoine Claire Houle burial

Dit Names and Databases

This post was inspired by a message my friend Marian Pierre-Louis posted on Facebook. She is experiencing French-Canadian for the first time in helping a friend with her research. the question posed was “How do I handle dit names in genealogy programs or online trees?!!” Dit names are sobriquets; nicknames to differentiate individuals who bear the same surname.…
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Example of potential layout of the property in a Quebecois seigneury.

Land Ownership in Quebec

Our French-Canadian ancestors had a far different system of land ownership than we, their Franco-American descendants, are used to. The seigneurial system, born out of feudal France, requires we think of researching their property records in different ways. In the earliest days of the settlement, the crown granted large swaths of land to the Company…
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French Family Tree.

Evaluating Online Trees

Online family trees can be very helpful for clues to your research. Over time, they have gotten better with the ability to attach documents, to help support the data in the tree. Unfortunately, for the most part, there is no place for creators of trees to explain their methodology in creating the tree. It is…
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Chart of postal abbreviations from the 1831 Table of the Post Offices in the United States.

Postal Abbreviations for Genealogists

Today we are quite used to addressing our mail with a two-capital-letter abbreviation for the U.S. state or Canadian province/territory. These codes, however, have not been around forever. They have not even been around for the entire existence of living people. It was not until 1963 the the U.S. Post Office required the use of…
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Route 5 traffic sign stating Alernative Sources for Death Information.

5 Alternative Sources for Death Information

The Social Security Death Index used to be the go-to place for genealogists to find information on those who have died recently. Unfortunately, Congress has now removed our access for the most recent three years, providing us with major problems in trying to find deaths in this time period. Indexes to death records are not…
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Quebec card money dated 1729.

The Money of New France

Part of researching our ancestors’ lives is looking at their economic situation. How much real estate did they own? What did it cost? What personal property did they have and what was its value? Part of determining this information is having an understanding of the currency of the period and what the value of that…
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