New virtual genealogy course: “Researching Families of Mexican Descent on Both Sides of the Border”

This June, I am one of the instructors in this brand-new virtual course and am pleased to be among some fantastic people who are also instructors. Coordinated by Colleen Greene, this course features insights into history, records, and understanding of the research processes into these. 

Researching Mexican families does involve knowledge of various topics on both sides of the border. Join us for this new course that is part of TIGR’s (the Texas Institute of Genealogical Research) 2023 course lineup. TIGR will be virtual again this year. Save $50 on the cost before the discounted Early Bird registration rate ends on April 15th. Get this by registering today! Read more details on Colleen’s blog





What’s in your attic or garage? Please donate historical items for safe storage and retrieval

I’ve discussed this in previous posts and also in some recent online discussions. It’s time to post more about safe storage and donations of historical items. My questions and suggestions also apply to an old spinning wheel, trunk, or piece of furniture. 

Are you one of the lucky people whose home includes an old bible, diary, or journal? What about an old book of marriage or land records from a county? Maybe great grandfather’s old trunk held a county or town tax list from 1899. Grandaunt Mary may have left you her old desk that included a pile of old papers with a list of the students at the one-room school back in 1877. Even better, some other school records in that pile provide parents and guardians names for students all the way up to 1885. Her grandmother was a schoolteacher at that school. Oh, the gems that would help you and others with family history research! Was Uncle Albert a cemetery sexton who carried burial records in his car trunk back in 1950 and these are now in your attic or are they with a cousin?

It’s likely you have community history in addition to family history details. Do you have these items stored properly in an archival safe folder, box, or other container? I hope it’s also a fireproof container and then stored in your home in the correct temperature for preservation. It’s wise to consult with someone knowledgeable on such storage. A county or state historical society or archive may offer such a service. Some have websites with excellent suggestions from trained archivists.

How would others learn of the neat details in these records if only you get to see them? State laws may prevent individuals from possessing specific old record books and the state archives can assist in learning more about this. That state archives or a county or state historical society may be a better location for housing these old items. 

A county or town archive that is only open during certain seasons of the year may not have the proper heat and air conditioning systems for preservation of records. It may not have an online catalog or other finding aid so that someone can find out about those old school records or marriage records. 

Think about donating such materials. A logical archive or historical society would be in the county or state to which the material has the most connections. A few suggestions on determining the best place.

1. Check to see if the likely repository has a comprehensive online presence. 

2. Verify that it has an easily accessible online catalog and links to collection finding aids. Can you search for a specific surname or place in order to find records? How would someone else know what is there?

3. Check that the hours for in-person visits to view materials are sensible and year-round.

4. Full-time staff with some volunteers is a good sign. 

5. Hopefully the website has information about donating material and a phone number or email posted. Then you can contact staff to determine that there is proper storage and if they are likely to accept what you would like to donate.


Don’t let these items sit in a plastic tub in your basement, garage, or attic. Share the history with others. Don’t depend on a family member donating such things once you are gone. Be ready to follow the guidelines of the archive or historical society as far as donations. Everyone will benefit.





Genealogy excitement: 1931 Census of Canada to Be Released on June 1, 2023

Just received an update from FamilySearch this morning! I will be ready to find some of my 3d and 4th cousins named Jones, Reinhardt, Daoust, and some others. It’s worth reading this full press release for many details. this 

GATINEAU, QUEBEC, March 15, 2023—After the legislated 92 years in the vault, the highly anticipated 1931 Census of Canada will be made available to the public. Collected during the Great Depression and at a time of significant immigration, the census provides a snapshot of the more than 10 million people living in Canada in 1931. On June 1, 2023, Canadians can expect to browse the digitized census images by geographic districts and sub-districts on the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) website. Following the initial release, LAC will work collaboratively with Ancestry® and FamilySearch International to create an advanced searchable database for Canadians, and those with Canadian heritage who wish to look for their ancestors.

In this collaborative effort to increase access to the 1931 Census of Canada, LAC has digitized all 234,687 pages of the census and Ancestry will apply its state-of-the-art handwriting recognition technology to the digital images to create a full index of the entire census. FamilySearch will then review the computer-generated index to ensure a complete and accurate index of all fields at a level never achieved before. The images and indexes will be available and searchable online for free through Census Search, Library and Archives Canada’s new one-stop shop for national census records. The images and indexes will also be available on and

“Library and Archives Canada is very excited to announce that it will be making the eagerly awaited 1931 Census of Canada available to the public in just a few months. Our partnership with Ancestry and FamilySearch will give us the opportunity to provide our users with an improved experience when searching and browsing the 1931 Census. This is directly in line with our goal to provide online, reliable and trusted access to Canada’s documentary heritage.” —Leslie Weir, Librarian and Archivist of Canada

LAC has been working in collaboration with external organizations like Ancestry and FamilySearch for over 20 years to help preserve and provide access to its genealogically significant historical records. Today, collaborations between private organizations and public institutions are the meeting ground of cutting-edge technology and subject-matter expertise. This collaborative partnership is key to meeting public demand and ensuring that the 1931 Census of Canada can be viewed and searched online more quickly than previous censuses.

“Ancestry is delighted to work with Library and Archives Canada and FamilySearch to bring the 1931 Census of Canada to the public and digitize these precious records for future generations. The release of the 1931 Census will enable millions of Canadians over the age of 60 to find census data for their parents for the first time. For those aged between 35 and 49, the census offers the first opportunity to access records for their grandparents. This will be game-changing for people building their family history and making connections with their ancestors.”  — Todd Godfrey, VP Global Content at Ancestry

“FamilySearch is excited about the release of the 1931 Census of Canada. We are honored to work with Library and Archives Canada and Ancestry to make its pages easily searchable for those individuals worldwide with Canadian roots seeking to extend the branches of their family tree and make fun personal and family connections,” said Stephen Valentine, Senior Vice President, FamilySearch International.

Quick Facts about the 1931 Census of Canada

  • Online censuses are very popular databases for family researchers and valuable resources for historians. Many Canadians and people with Canadian roots have ancestors who lived in Canada in 1931. Finding these ancestors in the census can lead to discoveries about other ancestors and new family connections.
  • The 1931 Census of Canada is 234,687 pages in length and includes 10,376,786 people.
  • More than 40 fields of personal information were recorded in the 1931 Census of Canada. These include typical questions found on previous census returns, such as family names and relationships, age, gender, and racial origin. There were also five new questions, touching on matters like unemployment and radio ownership.
  • The 1931 Census of Canada was the seventh comprehensive 10-year census following Canada’s Confederation on July 1, 1867.

Users can bookmark LAC’s Preparing the 1931 Census web page to stay up to date on the project’s status.


Genealogical institutes are perfect for family history education

Did you have time to register for a 2023 Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) course when registration opened at the end of February? Some courses filled and some have a handful of open seats.

Education is a basic part of family history research if you want to do it well. Education should never stop. We are fortunate today to have many options both online and off. I’m one who loves to sit in my own apartment (sometimes barefoot) to watch or present online educational opportunities. Genealogical institutes offer more intensive learning than a one-hour webinar. I coordinate the course “Digging Deeper: Records, Tools, and Skills” for the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. It’s an annual course that evolves every year as we instructors continue our research on the topics, laws, implementation, and online connections. It also includes interactive sections and opportunities for guided research and feedback.

GRIP courses include extensive syllabi full of tips, websites, books, and document examples. Some course syllabi reach 200 pages!

Three of the GRIP June 18-23 live virtual courses with some open seats are:


The July 9-14 in-person week has some openings, too. I know at least one does:

Get Your Hands Dirty! A Workshop in Land and Property Records 


The GRIP registration page shows which courses have waiting lists, meaning that the course has reached its coordinator determined limit. Limits are chosen based on the style of the course, personal assistance given, and hands-on sections that are tough to do with unlimited numbers. 



Enhancing parish registers from Quebec


My French Canadian ancestors are probably smiling down down at me. . I am thrilled when a subscription website (and free ones too) work on making record images better. We’ve all seen wills, church records, deeds, and other records that are awful to read. It’s a combination of things that contribute to this.

An announcement tells us, “Over a million images from the Drouin collection have been rescanned and made available on the website over the past few years. Another 135,000 images from the registers of 158 Catholic and Protestant parishes in Quebec have been rescanned on Genealogy Quebec, to improve their quality and clarity. The resolution of these new images is two to three times higher than that of the previous copy, which ensures superior clarity.”

I have gained many records and connections from my subscription to the The Drouin Collection Records. “The Drouin Collection Records are a collection of parish registers (baptisms, marriages and burials) covering all of Quebec and French Acadia as well as parts of Ontario, New Brunswick and the Northeastern United States, from the parish’s foundation up to the 1940s and sometimes 1960s.”

I suggest a subscription to this collection for French Canadian and other records in Quebec and many beyond. You can utilize the many parts of the Drouin collection with a subscription to Genealogy Quebec 

“The LAFRANCE, also available to Genealogy Quebec subscribers, is a search engine allowing you to explore these parish registers by searching for the individual(s) mentioned in them. Browse all of Quebec’s parish registers as well as millions of historical documents by subscribing to Genealogy Quebec today!”



June 2023 Virtual Course: Digging Deeper into Genealogy

It’s just over 3 months till the 2023 virtual week of the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP). The wide variety of courses provide education on almost everything genealogical. The course I have told you about does still have some openings after last week’s rush to register. Not everyone had free time to do that registration last week. “Digging Deeper: Records, Tools, and Skills” takes you beyond basic genealogy into more records, repositories, analysis, and some interactive sessions.

You still have time to register, and the other instructors and I welcome you. We are currently working on our syllabus material. Lots of new material to add, new online databases, verifying URLs, and working on the actual presentations at the same time. The 2022 syllabus for this course ended up at 175 pages.

We will be meeting online via Zoom and it works amazingly well for this course. Participants do not need their own subscription, GRIP takes care of that. Sunday evening, 18 June is a GRIP welcome session and details for all participants. Monday through Thursday this course meets all day and Friday is a half day.

Adoptees and family members may apply for FREE DNA kits. 5,000 kits!

An announcement from MyHeritage at RootsTech is special for adoptees and family members searching for their connections.  In his announcement, Daniel Horowitz states that he was proud of the “company’s commitment to make the world a better place. In that spirit, it gives me great pleasure to tell you that we have just launched a third installment of our DNA Quest project to reunite adoptees with their birth families through DNA testing.” 

No matter where you live, “anyone in the world over the age of 18 who meets that criteria is welcome to apply from now until March 17, 2023.” Click here to apply.

DNA Quest feature image 753 x 423

I applaud this wonderful project by MyHeritage. Please let others know about it.

p.s. If you need to purchase a kit, they are on sale at MyHeritage’s website.

South Dakota State Historical Society Shutdown for renovation

A March 3, 2023, Press Release provided dates for a lengthy shutdown while the Cultural Heritage Center in the state capital of Pierre is being renovated.

“PIERRE, S.D. – Plans are moving forward to renovate the historic Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.

Last year, the State Historical Society received an appropriation to renovate the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. Renovation plans include updates to the archives research room, heating and cooling systems, interior lighting, and increased collections storage capacity. Archives and museum staff and collections will be temporarily relocated during the renovation.

Due to this renovation, the archives research room will be closed to in-person research visits beginning March 10. The archives will continue to provide research services to the public through email, mail, and telephone requests throughout the renovation. Archives staff will also continue to accept donations, process collections, catalog books, digitize materials, and provide outreach services.  

After March 10, researchers are encouraged to call 605-773-3804 or email to request research services. The renovations to the Cultural Heritage Center are anticipated to be complete in 2025, and in-person visits will resume at that time in the newly updated facility.

The South Dakota State Historical Society Museum is currently scheduled to be closed to the public starting March 25. Museum staff have been working on preparing artifacts for storage during the renovation and so far, 50 percent of the artifacts are off exhibit. Further details will be coming about opportunities to see museum exhibits on display around the state in coming months.

For more information about archival support, contact the State Historical Society-State Archives at 605-773-3804 or visit”

Tomorrow (Feb 22) is the day to register for GRIP genealogy education

Time sure flys! Tomorrow, February 22, 2023 is when online registration starts for the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. June courses are virtual, July courses are in-person. Each is a week-long event.

Smart genealogists view the courses and then the registration page details so they are ready on Wednesday. As coordinators and instructors, my colleagues and I watch excitedly to see who signs up for the courses we have developed. I’m partial to the live virtual course and I will also be teaching several sessions in the live virtual Great Lakes course.

Please let others know about the opening of registration so they don’t miss out on the course they want. Join the GRIP page on Facebook and post your course choice on social media so others know about this great institute.