Friday, August 20, 2010

So Much Information - So Little Time

To prepare for my research trip to Newfoundland, I needed to determine what I already had, what I wanted to get while in Newfoundland, and how best to acquire and use the additional information.

I gathered information about my various ancestors from researchers who started this process before me and have been kind enough to share with and lead me in the right direction (thanks to Vince Hunter, Jeri Keough, Megan Mize and everyone who has done the volunteer work on the Grand Bank's website).  After I spent some time going through various transcriptions posted on-line, I noticed that they were incomplete (and I realize that there is no claim that they are complete and they continue to be a work in progress). By way of example, someone researching and posting the King’s Cove Roman Catholic Church baptism records oftentimes was looking for a specific surname or time period and only transcribed records that fit their narrow area of interest.

Since I was going to be in St. John’s for a limited period of time myself I decided that, rather than looking for specific information on an individual basis (the proverbial needle in a haystack), I would transcribe particular classes of records based on region and religion. For my purposes, I was interested in all Catholics in Broad Cove, Plate Cove (East or West), Open Hall, Keels, King’s Cove, Knight’s Cove, Stock Cove, and Tickle Cove. I made this determination after reviewing E.R. Seary’s Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, the 1935 and 1945 census on-line transcriptions at the Grand Bank's website, Wikipedia articles on the Bonavista region, and some historical and geographical material about the Irish in Newfoundland.

My reasoning was that many of the families in these communities originally came from the southeast of Ireland.  Once they arrived at the outpost communities (ususally after spending some time in St. John's or Bonavista) they shared churches, schools, stores and occupations, and these families tended to intermarry. Also as is often the case, when a woman married she moved to her husband’s home (oftentimes one of the nearby communities). It was not until the 1940s that families really moved from these outpost communities to other areas, and/or the larger cities (Gander, Grand Falls, St. John’s) or left for other parts of Canada or the United States.

Before going to Newfoundland I had conducted research regarding my Newfoundland ancestors on-line at several of the sites listed in my Favorite Research Sites as well as at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah (FHL).  FHL is an amazing research facility and they have an excellent on-line catalog enabling you to do your prep work beforehand to make the most of your research time. While I was at FHL I scanned various records relating to the Bonavista region, specifically:

Newfoundland 1935 Census
Newfoundland 1945 Census
Newfoundland Vital Statistics – Birth Records, 1891-1897 (Books 1 – 3)
Newfoundland Vital Statistics – Marriage Records, 1891-1922 (Books 1 – 9)
Newfoundland Vital Statistics – Death Records, 1891-1949 (Index to books and Books 1 – 14)
Parish Registers of the Catholic Basilica of Saint John the Baptist (1793-1899)

Next time ~ what to acquire in Newfoundland & what to do with all that information?

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