Digital Resources for Research in Manitoba

Recently I was helping a good friend with his research, and wanted to find some local resources available online.  A few days later our copy of Relatively Speaking – the journal of the Alberta Genealogical Society – arrived and my wife pointed out a website recommended in an article!

The website is – and no, that is not a typo! It is Manitobia! – and there is free access to all the information!

What will you find there?  There are five sections:  books, newspapers, maps, photographs, and K-12 Schools.

I first went to the books section hoping that I might find a few digital books . . . and I was very pleased to see that this was a collection of digitized local histories – and then I looked down the list of places and it went on and on – there are 167 place with local histories!  I really wish I could find some Manitoba ancestors!  And some of the places have more than book! These are full books in pdf format!  It might take a little time to download a book onto the screen but you can right click and save a copy.

You will have a similar good time exploring the newspaper, map and photo sections, but I wondered what there was in the K-12 School section . . .  It is organized by some interesting historical themes including Immigration and Settlement.

All in all a great site!  I wonder if someone would loan me an ancestor from Manitoba?

Are there similar resources for Alberta?  Come back next week and find out!

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Finding New Record Collections at and FindMyPast

Family History is not a dead subject . . .   there is so much new material becoming available almost  every week!

How can you tell what is new at  or .ca or

Go to the menu Search and select Card Catalog.  In the upper right next to the word Sort By is a dropdown menu – change it from Popularity to Date Added and you see all the new collections added recently to Ancestry. Hovering (that is pointing with the mouse but not clicking a button) shows an information box which includes the date that collection was last updated.

One recent collection added to Ancestry was Canada, Selected School Yearbooks 1908 to 2010.  Definitely selected yearbooks – I thought I would find some of my wife’s family who grew up in Alberta.  Nothing!  But I was surprised to find an entry for me at the University of Calgary – complete with picture – but the wrong degree.  Who did the indexing?  No one! It was done with new optical character recognition software – that is the computer software reading the scanned images.  No one transcribed it!  I submitted a request for a correction – although the degree they gave me was quite nice!  Nice picture though!

Try some of Ancestry’s new collections!

How do you find new record collections at FindMyPast?

FindMyPast is a great site if you are doing British Research, but you need to take a few minutes to work out how to do basic navigation.

Under the menu Search there is a link A-Z of Record Sets.  This is good to browse but there is no indication of what is new.  I found 2 ways to get information on new collections:  1.  Click on the menu News – which takes you to a blog – and look for articles about FindMyPast Friday – they like to release their new collections on Friday – after the headlines are a series of links across the screen including New Releases which takes you to lots of information on new collections, and 2. Go to the home page by clicking on FindMyPast in the upper left hand corner – you are of course signed in! – and in the middle of the screen you see a message Welcome Back Peter – well you probably don’t see Peter! – right below that are 3 links and the right hand one is Latest Records Sets on FindMyPast Fridays.

There are lots of interesting and valuable collections at FindMyPast – well worth the effort to find them.

One exciting collection that will be coming soon – and you need to watch out for is the 1939 Register. “In 1939, on the eve of World War II, the British government introduced an act that would allow them to gather vital information about the country’s population. This information would inform their decisions on identity cards, rationing, conscription and more, including – eventually – the formation of the NHS. In 2015, for the first time, Findmypast in partnership with The National Archives are publishing the 1939 Register online, providing an unprecedented insight into a country on the verge of war.”  There is a link to information about this project on the  home page.

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New Records Available at FamilySearch – and more good news for Irish Researchers!

It’s hard to keep up!  There is so much new information being released for family history research, so what do you do?  A good thing to do periodically – maybe monthly? – is to check the collections at your favourite websites like FamilySearch, Ancestry, FindMyPast, etc to see what has changed.

How do you do that?  Let’s look at FamilySearch this week – as I’m feeling guilty because I missed something recently for my Irish researching friends . . .

Go to, click on Records under the menu Search.  Then click on Browse All Published Collections which is under the world map.  You get a list of all the collections in the historical records collection at FamilySearch – wow, now 2019 collections! Note that they mark any updated or new collection with an asterisk *.   Click on the heading Last Updated to sort the list by last updated.  This won’t tell you which are new collections – perhaps they could put 2 asterisks? – but you can see where there is new information to search.  Clicking on a collection title will take you to a screen where you can search that collection.

Don’t forget to look for the little camera icons so you know which collections have images!

As of today (25 July) there are 22 new or updated collections since July 14!  That’s great! There are some interesting collections from all over the world. Mexican Catholic Baptisms is now over 35 million records!

The next section talks about Ireland but the instructions apply to any record collection you want to search. Scroll down to Ireland or better still use the place list on the left . .  UK and Ireland.  A new collection was added on 22 June 2015 called Ireland, Petty Court Registers 1828-1912 – 21.8 million records – and images at FindMyPast.  Now I’m not suggesting that all your relatives are petty criminals  – maybe they were just witnesses in the court? If you click on Learn More just above the words Search Collection on the left you will get a very interesting article about this record collection from the Research Wiki !

This includes a description : This collection will include court records from 1828-1912. Most small criminal and civil cases were handled by the Petty Sessions Court. Petty Sessions Courts even handled minor matters such as dog registration.

So registering your dog might get your name in the collection!

Court records may contain the following information:

  • Individual’s name
  • Date and place (county) of court order
  • Individual’s role (witness, complainant, or defendant)
  • Other information specific to the court case

And some helpful hints:

  • Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • Court orders usually identify the county. Search this county to find other local records, such as census records and parish registers, that may contain your ancestor.
  • Search the court case information for family names or clues about your ancestor’s situation or life story.
  • Take a look at the image of the actual record to verify that the information in the index is correct. As with any index, transcription errors may occur.

Knowing the county where your ancestors lived is very very helpful for Irish research – and this collection may really help you!


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Please Help the WorldWide Indexing Event

When?  During the week of Aug 7 to 14

Why?  Help “fuel the find”  – we all like to type in a name and search for an ancestor – now we can help make more names available – or find someone who can help do this?  – maybe someone with skills in a language other than English?

“Fuel the Find?” Indexed records are like the fuel that gives the power to connect people to their missing family members. Every name you index adds another drop of precious fuel that can help others find their ancestors.

What do we do?  Index one batch and help someone else to do the same  – especially if you know someone with skills in a language other than English.  If you don’t know how to index then go to for help with getting started.

You can contribute even if you don’t index a single name!

Hint:  Download a batch or several batches before the week begins – you can even work offline.  The goal is to have 100,000 people index a batch during the week.

For more information go to: and follow the links on that page

Will you help others find their ancestors?

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Good News if you are Researching in Ireland

The National Library of Ireland has announced the availability online of Catholic Church parish registers. Over 1000 parishes totally nearly 400,000 register pages at no cost to use!

Go to

This is just the images of the pages.  There is no index – yet?? – hopefully someone will create an index— another example of why the FamilySearch indexing project is so vital – please consider giving a little of your time to help – go to to get started.

You do need to know your Irish parish!!! – or at least a diocese. I tried the web site.  It was very easy to use and I was very impressed with the images.

If you’re having challenges with your Irish Family History you may find this site to be helpful  – the right sidebar says “Irish genealogy research is famous for being difficult, if not impossible. This reputation isn’t entirely deserved, although there can be some fundamental difficulties in discovering your Irish ancestry, particularly if you don’t know where your ancestors lived. That’s why I launched my website, Irish Genealogy Toolkit. It’s a free online guide to Irish family history research, and it’s designed to help you to find your heritage” – almost makes me wish I had Irish ancestors! – with a name like Darby you think I would have some!

Plus Irish researchers are also recommended to use The Irish Times Irish Ancestors ( ) and Roots Ireland ( )  which are linked to from within searches at the National Library of Ireland Catholic Registers.

Thank you to Dick Eastman (   ) and Peter Calver at LostCousins ( )  for making me aware of this.

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New Search at FindMyPast

I went to do some research this past week and noticed that the Search at FindMyPast has changed!  – and for the better I think!  I don’t know when it was changed!!!

Anyone doing UK research will like FindMypast (FMP) – why use FMP? 1.  it’s the official repository for the government indexes to Birth, Marriages, and Deaths (1837 on), 2.  Has great indexes and images for UK Censuses, 3.  It’s the online home for the National Burial Index, and 4.  Many many more great record collections – including USA, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland (the latter only if you have the right subscription).

The last revision to the Search left us with a somewhat cumbersome process but it got good results – now they have simplified the process!  I also appreciated that FMP allowed me to select which census years I wanted to search – so I could select to search 1851, 1861 and 1871 at the same time – and that feature has been retained.

So what is different?  I always resist the simplified basic search on the main screen – and click on the search menu at the top of the screen – and select a category such as Birth or Census.  Notice at the bottom of the Search menu there is a link to the A to Z of record sets – where you can select from 4 geographic regions or the world to find out what record sets are available at FMP.

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 3.17.33 PM

Let’s select Birth Marriage, Death, and Parish Records.  Note the icon and word at the top of the column on the left indicated which region you are searching – I have Britain – so the icon is an outline of the Great Britain – there is a down arrow to the right of Britain allowing me to select other regions or the World.

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 3.28.49 PM

Now this is where the new and to me improved part comes . . . on the left side of the screen there are the list of the categories that we saw in the Search menu – the one we selected is Birth Marriage, Death, and Parish Records and is shaded in green with a down arrow to the left of it and the subcategories are visible: Births and Baptisms, Church Registers, Deaths and Burials, Marriages and Divorces, Wills and Probate.   You click on the subcategory you want and then after the screen refreshes you enter the first and/or last name and any other information you want to help with the search – remember never tell a computer more than you have to! – and then click on Search.

If you don’t want to select a subcategory you don’t have to.

Ff you do select a subcategory you can further focus your search by clicking on the Browse Record Set link to the right of the Record Set box – and select one or more record sets.  When you are working on census this is how you select one or more census years to be searched.

Below your category and subcategories are a list of the other categories with an horizontal arrow to the left of the title.  Clicking on the horizontal arrow “opens” that category so you can see the subcategories – so it’s easy to change between categories.

Try it – I think you’ll like it!

And remember that free access to FindMyPast is available at any LDS Family History Centre – just call before you go as they may reduce hours over the summer

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FamilySearch Combines Indexes and Record Images in a Single View

A blog posting at FamilySearch on June 22 announced a new feature and this one I think is very helpful.  When you search in the Historical Records collection – remember this is where all the results of Indexing are available – and find a record you want to see you can click on the camera on the right to get a screen where the top panel on the screen is the image and below the image is a panel with the indexed information!  This is great to see both side by side!  You can still zoom in on the image or move it around without changing the text at the bottom of the screen.  Similarly you can scroll within the indexed information without moving the image!

Here is an example.  I searched in the BC Marriage collection – to get there I went to clicked on the menu Search and selected Records. I could search the entire Historical Records collection but I used the map to select Canada, then clicked on British Columbia on the list, and selected the collection British Columbia Marriage Registrations 1859 to 1932.  This search is for my wife’s Aunt Almida – so I just put in her first name, Almida and clicked search – there can’t be many people called Almida getting married in BC . . . her full name was Almida Erickson –   and there she was Almida marrying Olof Albert Peterson – second result!  I clicked on her name to get the details and then looked to the right to see a camera icon – meaning that there is an image available (which is not true for all searches in the Historical Records) – and then clicked on the camera icon to the view the document – you’re only seeing the top half of the marriage certificate in the following image – I can scroll down on the image to see the rest of the certificate:

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 3.30.26 PM

Try it yourself – a great new feature

Congratulations FamilySearch – and thank you

Here is the link to the blog article:

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