AGI Members Speak on Newspapers and Migration as Sources for Genealogy

On Tuesday, July 12th AGI member Georgina Scally gave the third talk in the National Archives of Ireland’s series of Evening Lectures when she spoke on newspapers as a source for genealogy and family history.

Georgina Scally, MAGI

Georgina explained the evolution of newspapers at national and local level, illustrating their often political agenda, as well as the social and cultural contribution they have made to wide society. With specific reference to biographical and other associated notices, Georgina very clearly drew her audience’s attention to the detail one might expect to find in birth, marriage and death announcements, funeral reports, obituaries, trade advertisements and legal notices from over a century or more ago.

References to death proved to be the most popular notices for newspapers to carry, often noting clues as to the deceased’s age, occupation, address, marital status, spouse and relatives. And these were also the notices most likely to include those from across the social spectrum. By contrast, marriage notices tended to refer only to the upper and middle classes, while those for birth rarely strayed away from the upper and upper-middle sections of society.

The lecture also included information about where to find newspapers, both online and off, with specific reference to the National Library of Ireland’s database, Newsplan Ireland. This source is an extensive listing of where Irish newspapers can be found and the years of coverage of each title. Georgina also drew attention to the online Early Irish Birth, Death and Marriage Indexes to be found on the website of the Irish Genealogical Research Society. These indexes act as a signposting to a myriad of underused, lesser known and alternative sources for BMD data and include many thousands of references to such data in Irish newspapers.

The previous week’s lecture was delivered by AGI member Brian Mitchell from Derry. Those at the well attended event were treated to an informative as well as amusing look at the type of emigration records that Brian has discovered throughout his long career in Irish genealogy.

Brian Mitchell, MAGI

Brian has identified sources documenting emigration that range from the 17th and 18th centuries right through to photographs of emigrants departing Ireland in the 1930s.  In particular, he highlighted business records of merchant families who traded with North America as a potential source for passenger records as well as newspaper reports from the 18th century that noted the arrival of emigrant families to the New World.  Although Brian’s sources were focussed on the Londonderry area, they illustrate a roadmap that researchers looking at other parts of the country might use to locate potentially valuable research material.

The next talk in the series will be given at the National Archives at 6pm on Tuesday, 18th July by AGI member Nicola Morris entitled: ‘Tracing an Irish military ancestor: an examination of 19th and 20th century records that document the Irish in the British Army as well as service in Republican forces during the revolutionary period from 1913 to 1922’. Here is a link to the lectures programme...see you there!