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Article posted: February 20, 1998

Making The Genealogical Leap Over The Atlantic
By: Ryan Taylor, Biography and Archived Articles

Charles Roth of Waterloo, Ontario has written asking several general questions about taking the genealogical leap over the Atlantic.

He has found his emigrant ancestor’s naturalization record in 1839. Since new arrivals had to wait seven years before changing citizenship, this means he arrived before December 1832. However Roth was disappointed to find that the citizenship papers give no information about place of origin.

The quickest way to find the naturalization date for this period is to look in Donald A. McKenzie’s Upper Canada Naturalization Records, 1828-1850. See the following URL for more information on the book: . All those who took out citizenship in this period are listed, including all the information available from the original documents. Aside from the citizenship date, the most useful is the date of arrival in Canada.

Roth asks how he can find the place of origin of his relative. He thinks the answer is Alsace or Lorraine. Look in the census. In 1851 or 1861, a native of Alsace would be listed as being born in France. In 1871 or later, Alsace counted as Germany (until the end of World War I). If you see someone with this seeming change in birthplaces, this is the explanation.

Other places which might list a place of birth are marriage and death certificates, obituaries, burial records, gravestones. Also, if the emigrant died before the census began or you cannot find him, look at his children’s entries in 1891 or 1901. These census’ included a question about father’s birthplace.

Roth’s mother came from Britain. He asks if any of the British census’ are available on the Internet. Given the huge nature of transferring the every-name information to the net, I think this is unlikely. What is probably there are statistical breakdowns, which are always disappointing to genealogists.

A good starting website for researchers with British interests can be found at . This aims to provide a ‘virtual reference library’ and has sections on various genealogical topics as well as links to large libraries and archives. One of the best is to the Public Record Office, the British equivalent of a national archives.

Since the PRO’s many pamphlets about their collections are no longer available through the mail (you must actually go to London to get them), they provide copies on the Internet, which you can download or print. GENUKI provides a link.

As for local information, the current issue of the Devon Family Historian contains a description of what is available on Devon via GENUKI. Every parish is described and its registers listed with IGI and PRO references. There are also bibliographies for each parish someof which include ordering information for books still in print. The Devon Family History Society also has an e-mail discussion group (for members only); access is provided through a GENUKI link.

Other counties may have more or fewer possibilities. Have a look at the ones that interest you.

Finally, Roth asks which genealogical software I consider best. My favourite is still Family Tree Maker, because of the ease of entry and variety of possibilities for recording odd facts. It is part of the Broderbund family of companies, which now produce many CD-ROM archival databases for easy research tips. It's most exciting recent feature is that it can convert Family Tree Maker data into book form using the modified New England Register system. It’s a great step forward.

More information about Family Tree Maker can be found through the website of its Canadian distributor You can also phone Global Genealogy & History Shoppe at 613-257-7878 (toll-free) from any where in North America.

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

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