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Genealogy This Week - 14 November 2009


Our weekly compilation of interesting new tools, resources and stories for genealogists:

PRDH: A Great Internet Site to Trace Your French Canadian Roots - Anyone trying to trace their French Canadian roots should definitely check out the University of Montreal's genealogy website known as PRDH (Research Program in Historical Demography). This academic website has painstakingly reconstructed the entire population of Quebec in the 1600s and 1700s from old parish records. To quote the website:

The project relies basically on exhaustive gathering of data from the parish registers of old Quebec. By systematic attribution of baptism, marriage, and burial certificates to the respective individuals – a "family reconstitution" made on the basis of names and family ties – people are identified and their biographies established.

The file for each individual gives the date and place of birth, marriage(s), and death, as well as family and conjugal ties with other individuals. This basic information is complemented by various socio-demographic characteristics drawn from documents: socio-professional status and occupation, ability to sign his or her name, place of residence, and, for immigrants, place of origin.

The PRDH site makes it relatively easy to trace both male and female lines all the way back to France since French custom was to record the maiden name of women on records even after marriage.

The amount of genealogy information on this website is simply astonishing. It is free to search the site but there is a charge to see complete records. Since this is an academic site, money raised from public genealogy inquiries goes towards advancing and improving the genealogy research. Thanks to DD for pointing out this wonderful site. [Link]

US National Archives Launches an Online Reservation System - Visitors to the US National Archives in Washington DC often complain of long lines and even longer waits. The National Archives house some true treasures, such as the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These are very popular tourist attractions as well as being a great place for genealogists to visit. Now, for a modest fee, visitors can reserve a date and time to visit the National Archives. It works similar to a Disneyland Fastpass for those who have been to Disneyland. [Link]

The Map that Named America - If you find yourself battling the long lines at the National Archives, you might want to walk over to the Library of Congress, which is also in Washington DC. This is a rare opportunity to see the only surviving copy of the famous Waldseemüller map. Created in 1507, this world map was considered state of the art for its time and shows the continent of American by name for the very first time. This map (shown below) is rarely shown in public and is part of an exhibitition called Explore the Early Americas. [Link]

Waldseemuller map

Sources Database from the National Library of Ireland - The National Library of Ireland has launched a new database called Sources that covers about 200,000 publications on all things Irish. Included is a large number of genealogy references. The National Library of Ireland also has a dedicated web portal that is worth checking out for anyone wanting to trace their Irish roots. [Link to Sources Database] [Link to Genealogy Web Portal]

Visual Mapping of the National Archives of Australia - Information Aesthetics magazine has a fascinating article about how researchers have developed software that visualizes the some 65,000 archived collections held by the National Archives of Australia. For example, the archives alone contains more than 18 million images, many of which could potentially be of interest to genealogists. The application identifies the different collections and their relationship to each other. You can actually download the application for free to Windows, Mac and Linux. A video at the bottom of the article describes how the whole process works. [Link]

Man Accidentally Attends His Own Funeral - This one was too funny to pass up and one that any genealogist would appreciate. Click on the link for a good laugh. [Link]

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