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Article posted: December 23, 1999

Medical Information In Family Histories
By: Ryan Taylor, Biography and Archived Articles

The idea of including medical information in family histories is a recent one. When I was writing the material I published last Christmas, I included causes of death whenever I knew them, including some that caused some raised eyebrows in our family.

Modern medicine does emphasize the genetic links which affect our daily health. Genealogy has a role to play in informing people about the causes of their ailments, even if they have no other genealogical interests.

The Quebec Family History Society offers a new workbook entitled Family Health Trees: Genetics and Genealogy (available from 613-257-7878). People who do not want to spend extensive time tracing their family history but who still have a wish to document their genetically-linked conditions might find it useful.

My brother's faulty retina is mirrored in several of our cousins. Naturally I was interested to find a blind ancestor in the early 19th century in England. This turned to amazement when we found that a large hospital in London is sponsoring an investigation into ophthalmalogical irregularities in descendants of a family from Eynsham, Oxfordshire. Our blind ancestor descends from a family there. Retinal disease in descendants of an Eynsham couple from 300 years ago is a common link.

Readers in the KW area can find another version of a family health workbook in the library of Waterloo-Wellington Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society. Their library is housed in the Grace Schmidt Room of the Kitchener Public Library, 85 Queen Street North.

This workbook was created about fifteen years ago by the Women's Institutes of Newfoundland, where the small population makes genetically-linked illness a real danger.

It is long out of print, but Waterloo-Wellington Branch Branch has two copies for use in the library only.

Ryan's Heritage Notebook...

Family History Contest Anounced
The Ontario Genealogical Society has announced a family history contest in connection with their Seminar 2000 which will be held in Ottawa next May. There will be two categories, Regular and Advanced, with the judges selecting which kind your family history might be!

There will be commendations and cash prizes, and a people's choice award. You do not need to attend to enter.

The purposes of the competition include promoting the sharing of genealogical data among researchers, and encouraging high standards of research and writing. Both categories need to be bound and indexed, well organized and with page numbers. The Regular category will include 50 people, the Advanced category 200 or more.

Details about the contest can be found at the Seminar website at The entry form is available there. You can also obtain information from Douglas Hill at (613) 746-9513; e-mail

Newfoundland Connections?

For readers with Newfoundland connections, exciting news from the attic of an old house in Barachoix Brook. A genealogist looking in his uncle's papers found nineeteen volumes of the 1911 Census for St. George, Newfoundland.

Since most of the 1911 Newfoundland census is lost except for 'a few bits and pieces', this was a thrilling find. The books do not cover the whole district of St. George, but there are about sixty places from the Codry Pond and Highlands area to the Port au Port Peninsula. About six thousand people are included.

The originals are now in the safekeeping of the provincial archives in St. John's, and microfilmed versions are available for research.

Now if we could just get to see the 1911 Census for the rest of the country...

Books By Ryan Taylor

Across The Waters, Ontario Immigrants Experiences 1820 - 1850 - by Frances Hoffman & Ryan Taylor, 1999. Riveting first-hand accounts of the immigration and settlement experience, taken from the diaries and letters of 150 immigrants.

Routes To Roots, The Best of Ryan Taylor's columns from the Kitchener Waterloo Record, by Ryan Taylor 1997

More Family History Research Resources

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Norway Bay United & Anglican Cemetery
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The Merivale Cemeteries
(Protestant - Ottawa area)