Thursday, 17 August 2017

Acadian Ancestors: Using the Nova Scotia Archives

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Acadia



Acadian Day was this week here in Canada. I'm not going to get into the long and complicated history of the Acadians in Canada. Long story short, the Acadians were some of the earliest settlers of Canada, settling in what is now Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. They would become victims of the war between the French and British for control of Canada. The deportation of the Acadian people by the British is one of the darker periods of our history. For a more complete history of the Acadians you can look at the entries in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

Acadian research has definite advantages and disadvantages. The fact that they were French Catholic means excellent religious records can take you very far back. One of the disadvantages is that due to the conflict that led to their expulsion, the records can be far flung and scattered.

Nova Scotia takes great pride in being the original home of the Acadian people. The Nova Scotia Archives (NSA) has a great collection of Acadian resources both online and on site. Go to the main page of the Archive's website, scroll to the bottom to "Some of Our Topics" and click on "Acadians".

There are 8 collections at the Nova Scotia Archives related to the Acadians:


  • Isaac Deschamps Collection
This collection does not deal exclusively with Acadians. Mr. Deschamps was traded with the Acadians and local First Nations. Later he was connected to Fort Edward. Among this collection is correspondence of his relating to the Acadians, as well as reports listing French prisoners at Fort Edward. It is available on microfilm onsite. Please note that the NSA does not participate in inter library loan. Also in the collection is a virtual exhibit that has 42 images of some of his correspondence. It also has lists of French prisoners at Fort Edward. One image has the names of the heads of family, along with the number of people in each family. Yes, you read that right. Entire families were imprisoned in some cases.


  • An Acadian Parish Reborn
If your Acadian ancestors settled in Argyle, Yarmouth County in the post deportation years, then this collection is for you. Covering the years 1799 to 1849, this searchable database has all the Roman Catholic church entries for this area. This section is subdivided through links on the right side of the page. You can learn about the history of the area, the Acadian familes who settled there, and the churches in the area. At the bottom of the list of links is a name index. Just click on a surname and it will give you all the entries under that particular surname. By clicking on a particular entry, you will get both a transcription and a visual image of the entry. Please note that there is no way to download the image, but you can download a transcript of the whole page.

  • The Port Royal Habitation
This is a virtual exhibit outlining the history of Port Royal. As well, it provides details and insights into the rebuilding of the original settlement.

  • Acadian Heartland: Records of the Deportation
This is a digitized and searchable collection relating to the deportation of the Acadians by the British. The collections is a series of papers documenting the timeline of the Expulsion. It is almost exclusively drawn from British sources, due to the fact that no records from an Acadian point of view has survived. While you probably will not find your ancestor's name in the collection, it is still a good resource. Reading through this collection will help you get a feel for the confusion, mistrust, and semi chaos surrounding this time period.

  • Acadian Heartland: The Records of the British Government
This a sister collection to the one above. This particular collection covers the years from 1713 to the Expulsion. It gives great insight into everyday life in this time period. As well, if you managed to find an ancestor who was part of the British military in this place and time period, you might find mention of them here.

  • This is Our Home: Acadians of Nova Scotia
This virtual exhibit of photographs showcases 150 years of the original Acadians' descendants in Nova Scotia.

  • Acadian Genealogical Sources
This section gives a complete listing of the NSA's Acadian holdings. If you're planning a research trip to the Archives, then this section will help you plan your time there.

  • An Acadian Parish Remembered
This last section is my favourite, and I've used it a lot. This indexed and searchable database contains the registers of St. Jean-Baptiste in Annapolis Royal. It covers the years 1702 to 1755. You use it in the same way as you would the " An Acadian Parish Reborn Collection". Unlike the collection above though, you cannot download either the image itself or the transcription. It is still a great resource though. Just look at the information I got for the baptism of Michel Bastarache, my 6x great grandfather, and one of my favourite ancestors. As an adult he caused a lot of trouble for the British military. You can read about him in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography here

Source: https://novascotia.ca/archives/acadian/archives.asp?ID=1728 

Not in the screenshot is an image of the register itself below. This is handy to confirm the information transcribed. As you know, errors can be made. Please note that the original entries are in French. This particular entry is one of 44 entries that pertain to the Bastarache surname. In all, there are over 3500 entries in these registers.


Not listed in the general Acadian search topic is the digitized issues of Le Courier de la Nouvelle Ecosse in the newspapers section. A French language newspaper that is still published today, it is the newspaper of the Acadian culture. The NSA has issues digitized from 1937 to 2002. You will need to have a fairly good grasp of French to read them, but you never know if your more recent ancestor of Acadian descent is going to show up in there. What is neat about this paper is that along with all the usual news items you would normally find, they also have articles discussing Acadian culture and heritage. You can access all the issues available here.

Of course there are many other sources for Acadian research online. But the Nova Scotia Archives is a great place to start delving into your Acadian heritage.

 




Wednesday, 2 August 2017

New Brunswick Ancestors: A Look at the PANB County Guides

The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick (PANB) is one of my favourite websites to use. Compared to other provincial archives' sites, it's very genealogist friendly. But did you know that there is so much more information on it than what you can find under the "Search" tab?

One of the great resources they have is the County Guides. They were developed in 2006, so some of the information is a little dated as far as what's available online. But they still have tremendous value into letting you see what they have in their holdings that isn't online.

To access them, you want to go to the main website page here.

http://archives.gnb.ca/Archives/?culture=en-CA




Next you want to click on where I've circled above on Research Tools, and then click on County Guides. Your next screen will look like this:

http://archives.gnb.ca/ResearchTools/CountyGuides.aspx?culture=en-CA

Next you just click on the county you want. The guide for each county is a PDF that you can view online, download and/or print. Each County guide has been set up the same way:


  • Introduction
A quick explanation of the PANB and the County Guides

  • Research, Interlibrary Loan, and Copy Services
A brief explanation of their policies. One of the great things about PANB is their participation in interlibrary loan for most of their microfilms. Why I say "most" will become clearer later on.

  • Development of the County
This gives a brief history of the County you are looking at, and their Parishes. This history comes in especially handy if your County of research was not one the original  8 Counties. For instance, some of my ancestors settled in Gloucester County. Gloucester was originally part of Northumberland until it became it's own County in 1826. Have an ancestor who lived in Kent County? It didn't become a County until 1826, and was formerly a part of Northumberland as well. In both the Kent and Gloucester guides, it advises you that you should be looking in Northumberland records for your pre 1826 ancestors.

  • Census Returns
This is a handy one. It tells you how complete the census records are for your particular County. For instance, It tells me that Northumberland County in 1851 and 1861 are incomplete. The PANB has census records on microfilm and the guide lists what the microfilm reel numbers are. These are not available for microfilm loan. Thanks to other websites though, you can access these in other ways.

  • Returns of Births, Marriages, and Deaths
This section is one of the ones that is outdated. The introduction gives you an overview of the New Brunswick policy on access to BMD's. |It then outlines what is online and what is not. However, since these were made in 2006, the year ranges will be off. For instance, it says that births are online to 1908, marriages and deaths to 1955. But when you check the online database on the site, births are available as of today up to 1921, marriages and deaths to 1966. It also states that their record set Marriage Bonds (RS551A) is only available on microfilm. It has since been added to their collection of online databases. So, just be sure to double check their online databases to make sure if what you're looking for hasn't been updated since the guides were made.

  • Burial Records
Another outdated section. The online database on the PANB of gravestone transcriptions has grown quite a bit since 2006. Depending on the County, you may also find some other collections. Charlotte County has some miscellaneous cemetery records as well as the H Owen Rigby fonds, concerning the account book of Mr. Rigby's undertaking business.

  • Land Records
This section describes their online indexes for land petitions and grants. These microfilms can be borrowed through interlibrary loan. It also describes their collection of Land Registry Office Records. Each County has a different collection number (i.e. Northumberland is RS91, Gloucester is RS87).
There is a microfilmed index only available at the archives, and the records themselves are not available for loan.
  • Immigration Records
Listed are microfilm numbers for their collections of passenger and crew lists. It does not say whether these are available through interlibrary loan. However, they have since been indexed and digitized and are available through the PANB's Irish Portal Virtual Exhibit here.

  • Court Records
The PANB has collections of both Probate Court and Court of Equity records. Microfilms for Probate Court are available through interlibrary loan, though not all have been microfilmed. Court of Equity records are not microfilmed and can only be viewed at the PANB.

  • Education Records
If you have an ancestor that was a teacher, then you might want to consult their collection Teachers' Petitions and Licenses (RS655). This province wide collection's records are not online. However, they have a searchable online index that will give you the microfilm number you need to consult. It does not say whether the records are available for interlibrary loan. I'm assuming that since they do not emphasize a restriction, that they are available to loan.

There is also the collection Teachers' and Trustees' Returns (RS657). You will find the school, teacher's name, and student lists by year. Each county guide lists the particular microfilm numbers needed to consult for that particular area. Again, it does not say whether these are available through interlibrary loan.

Lastly, each guide also lists miscellaneous education records that involve your particular County, and their microfilm numbers.

  • Directories
These have the microfilm numbers of the directories in their holdings for your particular County of interest and the corresponding microfilm numbers.

  • City Council Records
What's available differs for each particular County. As well, some have microfilm numbers listed, while others state "Numbers on Request". In King's County, you can find records from the Road's Commission, while in Restigouche, there are County Jail Records.

  • Newspapers
Another helpful section. Listed in each guide are the newspapers circulating in that area. Some have microfilm numbers attached, while others do not. They do say to consult the Archives for the microfilm number you need. You need to let the staff know what newspaper and date you are looking for to get the right microfilm number. These are available through loan.

  • New Brunswick Museum Vertical Files
These are files that "...contain genealogical, biographical, and historical research information for all of New Brunswick...". There is a microfilmed index on roll F11077.

  • Church Records
This one is worth the guide all on its own. Each guide lists the churches in that county, what years are microfilmed, and microfilm numbers. Take note though that if the microfilm you want says "(RESTRICTED)", then you will need to obtain written permission from that particular church to see those records. 

If you have Catholic ancestors, as I do, then chances are you are probably going to find what you need elsewhere on the internet through the Drouin. But check anyway. You might find something that you didn't know was missing from another site's record set. For instance, in the Drouin Collection on Ancestry, records for Burnt Church in Northumberland County are available from 1891-1899. However, at the PANB they also have 2 other sets from there: 1844-1890, and 1959-1972 (this one is labelled as restricted).

Now if you are trying to get a hold of non Catholic records, then what's available will make you do a dance. Among the guides I looked at, you could find Anglican, United, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Congregational, and Jewish records. Of course, this will vary County by County.

  • Other Institutions to Contact or Visit
Each County guide has a list of institutions, museums, societies and/or archives that have information on that particular area. Postal addresses are included. I'm sure a google search of the individual places will give you email contact information an/or telephone numbers as well.




While you're on the PANB's website, check out the other Research Tools and online exhibits they have. You'll be pleasantly surprised at what they have to offer.