Saturday, December 18

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy : Week 10 Results

Amy Coffin of the We Tree blog (and hosted by GeneaBloggers) presents "52 Weeks To Better Genealogy", a series of weekly genealogy prompts / suggestions / exercises that (hopefully) will help anyone to become a better researcher.

The challenge for week 10:

Investigate Family Search Pilot, which is part of This is a wonderful collection of records which literally grows every day. In the middle left of the page is a link that says “Browse our record collections.” Click it and pick a region. Search collections outside your research interest. Investigate the types of records collected all over the world and see how they differ from those with which you are familiar. If you are a genealogy blogger, pick a type of record from another country and share your observations about it.

Confession time:  I've never really used the Family Search site.  (Bad genealogist, I know ;-)

My excuses include having access to various other websites (LAC, Ancestry, automatedgenealogy, Canada GenWeb, etc.) as well as a close proximity to the Archives of Ontario in Toronto.

So before the change to the beta site, I decided to pick (somewhat randomly) two different records to poke around in:

Louisiana War of 1812 Pension Lists

This is was quite interesting as I've never had a chance to look at pension records - and for the War of 1812! 

Louisiana, War of 1812 Pension Lists, Lists of Pensioners - Pensions to Veterans, 1878-1879 database, FamilySearch (; accessed 18 December 2010.
Click to Enlarge
There are three record groups:
  • List of Pensioners - Pensions to Veterans, 1878-1879 (42 images)
Names of soldiers (and, more usually, their widows) are included along with the pension they received every quarter (6.75 or 7.00 for the first, second and third quarters, and 14.20 or 15.00 for the fourth quarter). Little snippets of extra information are sometimes also included under the "Attorney" column, including a representative's name or the notation "death"/"dead" (presumably when the pension would then cease or move to someone else).
  • List of Pensioners paid by State Auditor, 1876-1877 (52 images)
Includes names of soldiers (and/or their widows) and organized alphabetically by surname and then subsequently by quarter.
  • List of Pensioners under acts of 1873 and 1876 (55 images)
Includes names of soldiers (some widows and other dependants as well, but usually "Wid Solder's Name") and other interesting notations including "Dead", "Doubtful" or "No Doubt" (in regards to a claim?), "Ok" (they got paid?), a question mark, and "Fraud".

The helpful "About this collection" link to the FamilySearch wiki is also included.

New Brunswick Provincial Return of Deaths, 1815-1919

Canada, New Brunswick Provincial Return of Deaths 1815-1919 database from FamilySearch ( accessed 18 December 2010).
Death of Mrs. John (Mary O'Callaghan) Mahoney, 1815, Campbelltown, New Brunswick, image no. 84.
Click to enlarge.
Having become quite used to the layout and formats (which has varied over the years) of Ontario Vital Registration, I was interested to see how another province handled their civil registrations.  The first thing I noticed was that the form was quite static and even over the course of 40-plus years, remained virtually the same.  Fields included:
  • County of registration
  • Name of deceased
  • When and where died
  • Sex and age
  • Occupation
  • Where born
  • Religious demonination
  • Cause of death
  • Duration of illness
  • Physician attending (if any)
  • Signature of party making return
The database itself is divided by years, beginning with a blanket category of "1815-1887" and then yearly from 1888 to 1919 (with no records listed for 1893).  Though the initial group (1815-1887) gives an impression of quite early records, the majority are from the 1880s, with quite a few from the 1870s, and 1860s, a smattering of 1850s, and one (pictured above) from 1815 (a return completed many, many years after the fact, no doubt).

There is also the usual About this collection link to the FamilySearch wiki.

Please Note: This challenge was originally published the week of 6 March 2010. I'm continuing the series on my own after a lengthy (cough, cough) break from genealogy...


Amy Coffin, MLIS said...

The FamilySearch site has changed a lot since I first issued this challenge. Glad to hear you found it useful, and located the wiki as well.

Jenn said...

I'm glad you created these challenges - I'm learning so much! ;)