16 October 2011

Ryan Taylor Memorial Lecture October 15th, Ottawa, Ontario

This morning the Ottawa Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society had a very successful lecture by Leslie Albrecht Huber author of The Journey Takers. Leslie and her family took a driving tour to Quebec City and Montreal before arriving in Ottawa.

In her talk she spoke about the places where her ancestors came from in Germany (Mecklenburg-Schwerin) and Sweden and what their life was like in the mid to late 1800s. She also spoke about what the immigration experience was like for them.

Some of the research tips she presented to the audience were:

- Use maps from the appropriate time period to help you understand the place.
- Take time to understand changes in jurisdictions and boundaries.
- You must know the name of your ancestor's hometown and the town where they went to church.
- Try to gain a basic understanding of the time and place in which your family lived.
- Sometimes you need to visit the village where they lived to find the record you need; many sources have not been microfilmed.
- In Western Europe, parish records become the backbone of your research.
- Remember, even original records can be wrong!
- Use family sources as a starting point only.
- Verify all information in the original records.
- Be flexible in spellings of names and places.
- Pay attention to the details in a record beyond names, dates and places.
- Try to put your ancestors' lives in the historical context, especially religion.
- If you have no letters or biographies your ancestor wrote, then look for first-hand accounts written by others who shared the experience.

Let it be noted how quickly we lose the past if we do not preserve it and pass it on.
Otherwise our ancestors fall into the vastness of forgotten history.
I know this happened with the history of my father's and mother's families (Ed).

The Journey Takers, is available from Amazon.

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