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Formerly published by GlobalGazette.ca
Published January 25, 2000
Women in Your Tree, Part IX - Using professions, education and hobbies to trace female ancestors
By Sandra Devlin
I think I will conclude this series, even though I feel like I have opened Pandora’s Box and if I keep on looking there will be no end of sources and resources to recommend for searching for the females in your family tree.
Frankly, I admit to being pleasantly surprised at the bountiful opportunities beyond the conventional resources which hold clues to our female ancestors.
On-line documents and resources deal largely with history and its close-cousin genealogy in the 1800s and earlier.
There are other several sites, besides the ones which I already described in some detail, which should also be considered for their usefulness. Not all will be useful to everyone, some being geographically focussed, others with a cultural slant. Most have a focus of particular interest.
One of the newest sites to put up information extremely useful in searching for your grandmothers et al is the New Brunswick Archives. In an earlier column in this series, I mention that a breakthrough was possible in a difficult case in my own tree from Late Registrations of Births in New Brunswick. Since then, the New Brunswick Archives site has posted this wonderful resource on-line and it is fully searchable by child, father or mother’s name. I have found even more useful female information with the search option.
Google the following New Brunswick Archives resources:
Late Registration of Birth 1810 - 1887. These registrations of birth are based on proof supplied by individuals who required a birth certificate. This index is in two parts: 1810-1899 includes the names of 45,666 births and 1900-1904 includes the names of 11,800 births.
Women in Your Tree, Part III was headlined A Gold Mine of information on Female Ancestors. It would have been more apt had I save that title for the following. I picked up a wonderful little book at a yard sale this summer entitled The Golden Trail by the man we all acknowledge as the Klondike Gold Rush expert Pierre Berton.
Being recently on the trail of a Constantine ancestor, born in Moncton and reportedly settled in pioneer Calgary in the late 1870s, I was intrigued to discover two references to Constantines in Berton’s book. So, of course, I have to question whether these men were somehow related to the Moncton native out west. I have yet to make any connection, but I am still panning, as it were.
The analogous irony of those searching for nuggets in the Klondike as compared to obsessed genealogy researchers will not be lost on fellow members. “The excitement of the quest and the weariness of the course certainly drove many to abnormal excesses. But other still found time and energy to exercise the fundamental human decencies,” Berton wrote about Klondike men and women. He might just as accurately have been writing about us.
In this pursuit of Constantines in the West, I dug up (pardon the pun) a fantastic searchable database on the Internet which may hold clues for some of you, called Pan for Gold [the link to site was broken when checked on Decmber 19, 2018... suggest that you Google it]
Searching on Steeves, as a reliable southeastern New Brunswick surname, here are the results:
When local nurses training schools and teacher training schools (sometimes called Normal School) began to open, young women were among their first students.
Another new book, the newly released Life and Letters of Annie Leake Tuttle, Working for the Best (Wilfred Laurier Press) reminds us that young women who sought a professional life over a personal life (it was usually one or the other, but not both in their time) were apt to keep records and write lots of letters.
As a young woman, Annie Leake trained as a teacher at Normal School in Truro and taught in various places in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. She later travelled across North America and worked in British Columbia.
Her memoirs offer a rare glimpse into the intriguing dynamics of 19th Century life from agriculture to education; from religion to social norms and expectations.
She was among the first to use Model Teaching in the Maritimes. Some parents of Annie’s students considered the young teacher to be a radical because she wanted the teacher’s desk placed at the front of the class and her students’ desks facing the front in rows.
The young women who sought training were often from poor to middle class homes.
The young teachers were required to keep and file reports for the province. Extant records are worth a peek.
Many counties of New Brunswick have good school records, which can often be used to further your knowledge of female ancestors. School records start in Northumberland County, for example, in 1830 and go to 1852.
New Brunswick Schools: A Guide to Archival Sources is in several libraries in New Brunswick. Copies can be purchased from Council of Archives New Brunswick, PO Box 1204, Station A, Fredericton, N.B., E3B 5C8. e-mail inquiries to Louise Charlebois at email@example.com.
And by the way, the School Days Museum in Fredericton, co-ordinated by the Retired Teachers of New Brunswick, is collecting all and any school information, such as school pictures, text books, teacher's notes and scribblers.
Educational documents at the Kings County Museum in Hampton, lists a description of the boundaries of the various school districts in Kings County in 1871.
Included are the normal school notes kept by Annie DeLong from 1905 to 1908.
Another work-related path to follow:
Most Northwest Mounted Police officers in the Canadian West were married to trained nurses, who went with the package, often unpaid, but frequently documented.
Think about women’s work inside and outside the home, their interests and hobbies, their clubs and auxiliaries, possibly one or more collected pensions (don’t forget widow’s pensions and relief) or orphanages. Any one of these might lead you into more avenues of research.
In conclusion, I leave you with the encouraging words of Jody Dean whose submission to Missing Links, on-line Rootsweb newsletter reminds us that hard work pays off.
Jody writes: “ We made many attempts to find a living relative of an ancestor at whose grave someone placed flowers for Memorial Day. After first finding flowers, we left a message laminated with our address and fastened to silk flowers by the grave, but there was no response. Another year, we went prepared to sit and wait until the unknown person came, but the flowers were already in place. Then we decided to visit a local nursing home to ask whether there was one among the eldest who still had a good memory and had lived in the area. There was such a woman, and she had a daughter whose friend was the daughter of the person whose grave had been decorated. She owned a furniture store in another town and so off we went.
“As we were getting out of the car in front of the furniture store, an older woman was getting into her car beside ours. We knew the name of the person we sought, a first cousin once- removed, but had no idea what she looked like. After going into the store we learned that she had just left, and was the woman we had seen entering the car. We telephoned her and she acknowledged she was the person we had been looking for, but she had no idea who we were.
“Since then, we have shared much information and good times, and now each year we take her to the grave site and plant her flowers for her. She is now 87 years old and still does the book work at the furniture store that her son now manages.
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