There are lots of blogs out there to help you learn how to do family history research. This blog lets you watch our progress as we roll the Canadian Genealogy Survey out across the country. We'll also track developments in research on family history. It's a bit of a twist, but we hope you'll find something of interest. We welcome your comments.

If you haven't taken the survey yet, you can find it at:

Friday, 19 August 2011


  • Why the surge in genealogy? Several people we talked with during our tour of local museums and archives were less convinced that there was still a surge in interest. They seemed convinced that their own local communities had less need for formal genealogy, since small town and rural people were more conscious of their own roots and sensitive to the origins of their families; in other words "rooted" within their communities. Instead, they talked of genealogy as being important for people "from away," but with local roots, as their main clientele. The notion that the rise in genealogy was a function of distance from the original places associated with their families resonates through the scholarly literature.

  • Scholars discuss issues of identity in post-modern society, seen to be characterized by rapidly increased mobility and a sense of "rootlessness" on the part of large parts of the world's populations, as a leading impulse for current genealogical interest. But mobility and migration has long been a feature of Canadian society, particularly in Atlantic Canada.

  • Whether our survey will show people pursuing genealogy to discover roots or for other purposes remains to be seen. A very preliminary look at the results point to several sources for interest in family pasts. A dominant theme in responses to why people do genealogy and family history is sheer interest. Instead of searching for some sense of identity, respondents spoke more about inheriting their interest in family history from relatives or friends and just becoming "obsessed" with the interesting things they were discovering. More on this theme later as we have a closer look at the responses.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


  • We are safely back from the trip of a lifetime; we visited two dozen or so local and county museums and archives throughout Nova Scotia during the past week. Thanks to everyone who received us so kindly and shared their information about the doing of genealogy on the ground at the local level. It was great to meet so many of the people we had corresponded with and all those summer students who work so hard to help visitors to these institutions.
  • On our return to Margaree we were able to check out the survey and found we are up to a thousand completed surveys; all in the course of less than one month. We are just beginning to roll out the survey information in other provinces, where quite a lot of interest has already been shown, despite the fact that we had done little to advertise the survey there until this weekend.
  • So, thanks to all those who have completed thus far; and keep telling your friends to come and visit us. We would like to at least double those numbers by the time that we take the survey down sometime in November.
  • We are looking forward to getting the results out as soon as we are able to access the completed surveys, which we may not be able to do until the survey period is completed in November.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

2,000 visits to our blog!

Sometime overnight we had our 2,000th visitor to the blog. Thanks everyone for checking us out and for your comments.

Thanks also to Robert Ross for posting a link to our survey from his website PEI and NS Lineages ( and to the Cape Breton Genealogy and Historical Association ( for letting their members know about the survey.

Along the Evangeline Trail

 We started our day with a visit to the Yarmouth County Museum & Archives, in Yarmouth, NS, where we were greeted by Celia Muise and Alyssa Muise (no relation - at least not that we've been able to document!) It had been a number of years since Del had visited the YCMA and he was impressed with the changes that have been made.

Our next stop was at the Admiral Digby Museum, in Digby( We had a great chat with Curator Sheryl Stanton, seen chatting with Del below, and her able assistants, (left to right) Raylene Frances, Kassie Tidd and Gabbie Cyr.

We finished our day with a visit to the O'Dell House Museum in Annapolis Royal ( Del found some spin tops to add to his collection. They go nicely with those he picked up at the Queen's County Museum.

It was great to see our poster displayed in all of these places and to learn that people have been picking up the brochure.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Along the South Shore

Today we visited the Thomas Raddall Research Centre in the Queen's County Museum ( What a great facility and wonderful gift shop! Thanks to Kathy Stitt, pictured with Del at left, for giving us a warm welcome (and helping us indulge in the gift shop).

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Giving thanks where due...

The Ontario Genealogy Society (; the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada (; genealogyblog ( and the Council of Nova Scotia Archives all mentioned our survey to their members/readers. Thanks for helping us get the message out!


We stopped in Wolfville today so that Leighann could spend a few hours in the Acadia University Archives on another project. I worked from here to visit a number of local sites; particularly the Kings County Archives and Heritage in Kentville (http// and the West Hants Historical Society in Windsor, (http//
There I spoke with Nick and Kyle, two local university students. They were well versed in the issues relating to on-site use of their resources and the question of internet access to wider resources. It seems that the number of e-mail enquiries is as large if not larger than the number of actual visitors. This has been the case in a number of the sites we have visited in the past few days, and we were wondering if this is a common thread.
Do local and historical societies receive as many enquiries regarding genealogy on-line as in person?

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

On the Road - Again

Today we visited several more centres and distributed more materials related to the Survey. Thanks to all the great people we met at The Cumberland County Museum and Archives ( in Amherst; Isabel Simpson Heritage Centre and Museum ( in Springhill; Ottawa House in Parrsboro; Age of Sail Heritage Museum ( in Port Greville; and the Colchester Historical Society Museum & Archives ( in Truro.

In the photo at top left are Age of Sail Curator Oralee O'Bryne and Del. We toured the museum and had a great lunch at the cafe. Thanks for your hospitality Oralee!

On the Road

Thanks to all the people who greeted us so warmly at the Antigonish Heritage Museum (; Hector Exhibit Centre (; the Creamery Square Heritage Centre in Tatamagouche (; Wallace and Area Museum ( and the North Cumberland Historical Society in Pugwash ( We enjoyed touring your facilities and chatting about family history research. Our brochure is now available at these sites, if you're looking to pick one up.

Today we're starting with the Cumberland County Museum and Archives and hope to visit several other sites along the way to Wolfville.

The photo at top left is of Del outside the Antigonish Heritage Museum, making friends the The Conductor.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Getting the Word Out - Part 2

We're hitting the road today to promote the Canadian Genealogy Survey throughout mainland Nova Scotia. First stop, an interview with the Pictou News.

For those of you living or travelling in Nova Scotia, you can pick up one of our information cards. They look like this and should be available at libraries, archives and genealogy centres throughout Nova Scotia.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Thursday, 4 August 2011


We have just completed a revision and updating of our ongoing bibliography about studies of Genealogy and Family History related scholarship. It is a large body of work and we will be adding to it periodically. We have attached abstracts of articles where they are available and hope to do brief summaries of those which do not.

Just a reminder; we would appreciate any suggestions for adding to this bibliography and would welcome comments on any of the articles or books we have included.

As well we would like to do some thematic review essays of some of the monographs that have been published in recent years.

While it is difficult to create mutually exclusive sub-categories, we have arranged material in a way that makes sense to us; but we urge you to scroll through the complete bibliography to see how wide-ranging the scholarly interest in genealogy is.