Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cool Stuff About YOU

I've just been playing around in Google Dashboard. Frankly I'm pretty amazed at what's in there ... about me. I'm not bothered by it, but decide for yourselves. The easiest way to get there is just Google "google dashboard".

Just came in from shovelling. It's VERY cold.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Genealogy Black Friday Sales 2014

OK guys, here's your genealogy opportunities

I did notice that Legacy 8 Deluxe is listed above at 50% off. So I had a look at the Legacy website and found sales on all kinds of things. You won't find this without going in through the special link so here it is AND the Legacy products are one day only - today!

Also, for those new to this blog I will say again how much I love Legacy [and I've used buckets of other software programs]. Anyone can download a FREE version of Legacy and read about it here and here In case you decide you'll like the Deluxe version later you do not have to start over. The two versions will merge. No muss, no fuss. And no, I have no affiliation with Legacy.

Who knows what else you might stumble across by just poking around the websites?

Hope you find some bargains!!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

FREE: DNA & Other Stuff on a Wintry Day

So the weather advisories are out for today and tomorrow. What a great couple days to stay inside and listen to some FREE webinars/podcasts on a variety of topics from DNA easy explanations, to Top Tips, to the Top 101 DNA websites. If you poke around you'll find lots more to read and listen to while the wind blows, and the snow snows. Winter *does* have it's good side ... if you're a genealogist at least! :-) I am sooooooooo glad I can't run the snowblower!! Hahaha

Happy Reading, Happy Listening, Happy Learning!

LAC - Bloody Hell

"Auditor General: Federal archives sitting on mountain of unsorted documents"

OK this is something many of us have been aware of for quite some time. THANKFULLY it is now public and Canadians can see how shameful this is. I don't get involved in politics, but our federal government 'should' be soooooooooo embarrassed. Alllll those lovely records .....

Happy Searching,

Teaching Kids Good Lessons at Christmas

I don't know about all of you Grandparents [or parents, aunties, etc], but my little Granddaughter Macy has waaaaaaaaaaay more toys than any child could ever play with. The ones she has outgrown just sit there.

Many of you will be aware of the 'Elf on the Shelf' that comes out at Christmas time. Today I found this really great site [thanks Linda T.]

So basically the Elf is encouraging kids to choose a toy(s) they no longer play with and donate it/them. You can print the letter, mail it, email it, or just share it on Facebook if your little person {or their parent] will see it. Good lessons in there I think?


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Genealogy/Technology Black Friday Deals

Thanks to Thomas MacEntee for this
Just be sure to pay attention and READ so you buy on the appropriate day.


Scanners vs Digital Cameras for Genealogy

OK, first of all I'm no expert so all I can give you is my own experiences. I have been using a digital camera since they first hit the market. I've had three different cameras. I've have three different scanners. I doubt I'll ever go back to scanners; however, I have never used any of the brand new ultra scanners such as FlipPal. If you're interested, just Google 'flip pal'. They're easily available and coming down in price.

There are lots of articles regarding digital cameras too - again just Google it. Right now I'm using a Nikon CoolPix P510. It takes awesome pictures, with a 42x wide optical zoom I've been able to get some super 'close-ups' of, for instance, a flock of sheep that were waaaaaay up a mountain in Austria - you can actually see their eyes staring right back at me from that distance. Kind of weird, but cool at the same time. Haha But what do I use it for in genealogy?

Well, in a word 'everything'! I use the macro close-up for taking shots of pictures, and all documents. Trust me it works! Even a whole page fits nicely and is totally readable. Plus I can zoom in if there is anything difficult to read. I've had success at figuring out writing that I could not read on the hard copy. I also have been using my camera(s) to take pictures of microfilm screens. That takes a bit of practice, but I love it because there's no paper to deal with. I download the photos to my hard drive, and can then 'play' with them using any kind of photo editing program ... even just the program that came with your computer.

The other thing I love about using my camera is the ability to share with anyone via email, or any other method of technology. But what prompted this post is something I was reading this morning from Ol' Myrt's blog. Here is the post . Be sure to have a look around while there.

Happy Scanning or Photographing!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanks Regina Branch SGS

So what a lucky girl I am. OK I've worked for twenty years, literally non-stop, to get here, but this was payback.

Tonight I was honoured to speak to the Regina branch of the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society at their AGM ............ and I had sooooooooooo much fun!! I got to renew numerous old acquaintances, and make some new, wonderful, and very talented genealogy friends. And I believe we all learned some new 'stuff', as we laughed, and thought our way through some family history challenges. Only once did I have to get out my 'spanking stick' to quiet things down!! What a hoot!! Hahaha

I have always felt this is the most important part of getting together with like minded people. No one can know everything, about anything, all the time. Take a minute and think your way through *that*.

And in my humble opinion it should always be about sharing. I love what I do. I share what I am able. And I keep my mind open to always take the often overlooked opportunity to learn from others as well. What more could we ask for? Thanks everyone!

Happy Searching All,

Monday, November 24, 2014

Canadian Passenger Lists - HINTS

Manifest Markings: What was "British Bonus Allowed" on Canadian Passenger Lists?
Understanding the Term "British Bonus Allowed" on Canadian Passenger Lists 1890-1906
British Bonus Allowed

The British Bonus was a commission paid by the Canadian government's Immigration Branch to steamship booking agents in the United Kingdom and in European countries for each suitable immigrant who purchased a ticket to sail to Canada. The immigrants themselves did not receive the bonus, although those who settled on western homesteads did receive a separate monetary bonus upon proof of settlement.

As such, the "British Bonus" was a subtle marketing tool used by the Canadian government; it served to encourage steamship booking agents to recruit desirable settlers (farmer, domestics, etc.). The laws of the time in many European countries forbade open encouragement of immigration by any foreign country.

The British Bonus came into effect through the passage of an Order-in-Council on September 27, 1890. It provided the following provisions.

To pay a limited amount, not exceeding in any case $50.00, to the class of "returned men" (not exceeding fifty) to Europe toward recouping their expenses on sufficient proof furnished of success in bringing immigrants to Canada.
To pay a bonus to Steamship Agents in the United Kingdom, of $5.00 for each adult settler on land, of 18 years and over, on certificate of booking and shipping such settler to Manitoba, the Northwest Territories of British Columbia, and, on certificate of a Dominion Lands Agent, to be furnished as proof of such settler.
To pay a bonus of $10.00 to each homesteader, the head of a family, and $5.00 for each member of such family at the adult age of 12 years and over, with an additional $5.00 to any such member of a family who might within six months after arrival in Canada become a homesteader on settlement on land in Manitoba, the Northwest Territories of British Columiba, proof being furnished of such settlement by the certificate of a Dominion Lands Agent.

While the arrangement above was in place, many suggestions were received by the Department recommending that the regulations be altered so that a bonus would be payable when the immigrant arrived in Canada instead of when he took up land. It was finally agreed to pay of bonus of $1.75 on adults and half that amount on children from the British Isles arriving in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This system remained in effect until April 1, 1906 with the exception that in later years it applied to immigrants to eastern as well as Western Canada. In the year 1904-05, 146,266 immigrants arrived at Canada of which the British bonus was paid on 28,835.

The stamp "British Bonus Allowed" was stamped against the name of applicable passengers on manifests. Other, similar, notations included "C.G.E.A. which was the abbreviation for the Canadian Government Employment Agent (these agents received a commission from the government for placing newly-arrived immigrants with employers who were seeking labourers or domestics; and "Continental Bonus" which was established in 1882 and were similar to the British Bonus but applied to emigrants from the European mainland.

Read more:


Black Friday Sales for today

Not sure how long these sales will last, maybe today only, but with these prices worth jumping on if there's something you've been looking for [genealogy and technology]. There's even a couple free ebooks.

Happy Searching,

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Maps - US

Fantastic maps from the US Digital Map Library right down to the township level


Praire Town Images

This is an amazing work in progress showing images of old Saskatchewan and Alberta towns. Read the 'About' section to see what is included and other details.

Interesting to see if there is a year on the image, and then compare it to what year your ancestor(s) arrived to see what they saw. Yikes!! And so many of them who arrived to these 'images' were coming from locations already having paved streets, electricity, and the convenience of running water. Ohhhhhhhhhhhh myyyyyyyyyyyyy.

Happy Searching!

FHL Discontinues Photo Duplication

For those who have been taking advantage of free photo duplication services from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, you will be sorry to learn that the service will be discontinued by 5th Dec. 2014. It's too bad, but I can imagine they were totally swamped with requests.

The official explanation is “As more microfilm and books are digitized and added to, and more links are made available to partner sites that already have this information digitized, the need for photoduplication will decrease. FamilySearch is attempting to digitize as many resources as possible and make these available online. If the film or book has been digitized, you can print your own copies directly from the web site, if printing the image is not restricted by the copyright holder.”

So there you have it.

Cheers on this snowy morning!

Friday, November 21, 2014


I have taught classes, and written about, using Last Will and Testaments for genealogy purposes. I think a common belief we share is that our 'Will' is private and will only ever been seen by the people mentioned in it. Right? Ha!! WRONG!!

As long as a 'Will' has been probated it becomes available to anyone who knows how to search for it. In most cases it will cost you a very small amount [like under 10 bucks].

So now why would you ever want to spend money searching for an ancestors 'Will'? And who left a 'Will'? Probably only the rich, right? WRONG!!

I have numerous 'Wills' of ancestors ... from Scotland, England, USA, and Canada ... mostly from the 1800s. I'm sure there are others I could get, from other countries, and other timeframes. But WHY do I want them?

Think about why WE write a 'Will'. To ensure our possessions are left to those we want to inherit. We are no different than our ancestors who had the same desires. Property was, and may still be, the biggest of our assets. Then there are numerous other 'things', least of which will be our genealogy research. Have you thought about who will inherit all your work? And have you made note of that in your 'Will'?

One of the things we all have in common is the multiple times same names are used over and over from generation to generation. So if your ancestral families had numerous kids, and all those kids named *their* kids the same names [to honour their parents/grandparents etc], they would need to be very specific about which kid got what [ie. who were their parents?]. To do that they almost always named every one of their children in a 'Will' - often in birth order. For the female children the name of the husband would be included, often with the couples current address and even with his occupation, and of course his surname! Now isn't *that* an awesome way of finding our invisible and lost females ancestors?

If you're like me, pretty much all my families were from modest means. They were labourers, coal miners, small farmers, weavers, grocers etc. Following them through records has shown they obviously had very little cash so what was there to leave? Well let me tell you my friends.

My 3X great grandfather, Johnston McNIECE, had 13 children and never owned a full quarter section of land. And guess what? He left a SIXTY-SEVEN page 'Will'!!!!!!! He named every child, every marriage, AND every location they lived in at the time he wrote his 'Will'. He also included some details about his wife - one Martha JONES babt 1826 in New York USA. Looking for a Jones b. NY in the early 1800s is like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. But that's a story for another day. Haha. Johnston made sure to mention any 'assistance' a child had already been given. He also listed alllllll his assets - the good wagon, the wagon, the good harness, the harness, etc. etc. - and to whom each was to go to. It was a gold mine of information and cost me less than 4 bucks.

I have another one from a 3X great grandmother from Scotland. She also listed all her children, whom they married, where they lived etc. What was totally startling was that she named the father of one of her grandsons. Not too exciting? Well, that child was illegitimate. AND the son of my 2X great grandmother. AND my great grandfather! In no other record is that available. I can say that with surety as I've searched them all from birth to death.

I could continue, but hopefully you've gotten the idea by now. But where and how do you find 'Wills'? Ah ha! That will be one part of an upcoming course I'm working on that will be ready for Fall 2015. AND it will be an online course, so no matter where you live, you can register and participate at your leisure. More about this later. In the meantime, remember the importance of 'Wills'.

To get your started, for those with British Isles roots, have a look here

Happy Searching!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to Use This Blog

I don't know if everyone knows how to use this site so here goes:

1. If you want to see older articles, click on 'Older posts' [down a bit and slightly right] or simply scroll down and watch the right side of your screen. Hint: if you have changed the size of your font you won't have this option until you make your font smaller.

2. If you want to have all new posts delivered to your email box, click on 'Subscribe to PastRelations' etc top right hand side of screen.

3. If you are looking for a specific topic, enter your search term in the box under 'Search this blog'.

4. If you would like to become a Follower of this blog [I would appreciate it] scroll to the bottom and click on 'Join this site'.

That's it, that's all. If you're having problems with the site, shoot me an email [you can't click my address as I don't want a ton of spam].

Hope you are enjoying my efforts AND
Happpppppy Searching!

IrishArchives 1800s

This is possibly the largest site of Irish databases for the 1800s I have ever seen, FREE, although I am discovering some of them are links to 'pay for' sites [like Ancestry] most are not! I certainly have not had time to search through much, but I wanted to share this quickly before I lose it [the link, *and* my brain]. Hahah Have a look guys and please let me how you make out?

Happy Happy Searching!

Scottish Extant OPRs

Anyone who has ever heard me speak knows that I'm always 'baggin' on people to READ, READ, READ. One of the reasons I encourage (badger!) folks is to see what is available in that database before just plunking in a surname, hitting search, getting no matches and never returning to that website again. There are buckets of reasons why you may not be getting matches - perhaps the years you're looking for were never included, or were lost; perhaps the area you're looking for was never included, or was lost; perhaps it includes surnames that only begin with a certain letter and the rest were lost or are yet to be included; and on and on it goes. Soooo always read the Help or FAQs section so you are searching like an expert, and not a beginner!

Thanks to Chris Paton for the following article that he wrote on his British Genes blog.

NRS relocates Extant OPRs guide to new website
Posted: 16 Nov 2014 09:37 AM PST

One of the most useful research guides that the National Records of Scotland provides is a guide to the coverage for its Church of Scotland register collections, which it provides on a dedicated page called Extant OPRs. It tells you when looking for records from a parish what still survives by way of baptismal, marriage and burial records for the Kirk, the records for which were called in upon the creation of the General Register Office for Scotland (in two stages, in 1855 and 1885), they being noted as state records. A series of appendices also notes the following:

Appendix 1: kirk session records (our reference CH2) containing pre-1855 birth, death and marriage entries

Appendix 2: kirk session and other material found in the Old Parish Registers

Appendix 3: miscellaneous records containing entries from non-conformist churches relevant to the Old Parish Registers

For a few years this guide has been accessible via the ScotlandsPeople website under the Help & Resources tab. However, for a long time, there was a major issue with this guide in that unless it was viewed using Internet Explorer as the web browser, the numbers allocated to the parishes did not line up on the site to the list of the holdings available alongside. If using Firefox or Chrome, for example, everything displayed on the page was offset by a line, making it quite confusing for folk who weren't too familiar with Scottish geography to know that something may have been wrong when consulting the resource.

Thankfully, as part of its drive to make the key web platform for its NAS and GROS services, the Extant OPRs guide has now been relocated to a new address at , and now works fine with any browser. As before, it is still also accessible from the ScotlandsPeople page, again, from the Help & Resources tab. In addition, the guide, previously compiled in 1975, has been revised, though at present I am not sure how extensive the revisions may be. The various files remain accessible in PDF format, which can be downloaded to your computer.

From what I can see, all other resources remain available as they were on the ScotlandsPeople site, but this definitely gets a big thumbs up as one of the most useful resources available on the site, and now presented in a much clearer and user friendly way.

Well worth bookmarking the page!

USA Thanksgiving Recipes

OK so this is not necessarily genealogy, unless you think of the many recipes our Mom's or Grandma's made that just shout 'comfort' food to us. The US is also made up of immigrants who brought their own recipes, same as Canadians. So you can choose a State, or even just an area populated by your family ethnicity, and maybe you will find a recipe that reminds you of *that* special food. If you're recipes are like my Mom's they read like this: Flour, butter, eggs, cream. Bake. That doesn't help me!! haha Have a peek


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Louis Riel Hanged Today

What a sad day in Regina history - my opinion only. Riel was hanged on this day 1885 [Nov. 16].


Irish Radio Genealogy - FREE

Well this is a first for me. I've just finished listening to one of the programs, and am now listening to the second - there are currently 12 different topics. Amazing programs. Lots of choices and all delivered by experts. Back to my headphones now.

I'm having company for the game and dinner today. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, what oh what do I have in the freezer? Hahaha

Happy Listening!

Darned Census Enumerators: Harmonica Shea

This is a true, and also pretty funny example. Offers some insight as to how details get mixed up, AND why we have trouble finding some people in old records. I'm still chuckling!

Happy Searching,

Prairie Locator - FREE

Now here's a handy little site Thanks Shannon Cherknowski for alerting me to it.

Convert any Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba Legal Land Description to GPS Co-ordinates for FREE. WHAT a help this will be to nail down the actual physical location! WooHoo!!

I'm planning to offer a course in Fall 2015 that will help you study, search, locate AND learn to read your homesteaders land files and also locate the associated maps & books. The course will take place AT the Saskatchewan Archives in Regina. A few genealogists use the Archives for homestead files, but you won't believe what else they have!! Anyway, keep this in mind as that particular course is VERY limited in the numbers of people I can accept. It's all hands-on and you spend all your time searching for your own ancestors ... with my help. If there is interest from enough out-of-town folks let me know. I am thinking of a 'special' offering for you!

Cheers ... on this very blustery day,
Pat [Go Riders!?]

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Irish Magazine Online - FREE

I've written about this before, but I'm picking up new readers all the time so this is for you.

The newest FREE issue is now available featuring Fermanagh. Although each magazine features one specific county there is a ton of info on lots of other Irish challenges that could be very helpful for each of us.

So for this months issue and to see all other back issues or to subscribe to all FREE issues


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

SK Historic Newspapers Online

This is an amazing project! So for anyone who thought they had some spare time, or worse for those who have busy schedules, here's a great way to spend many, many hours. :-)

The project is far from complete, but what an opportunity for us to read these old newspapers from the comfort of our home computer. Some days it hits me how far we've come in a short time. This is one of those days. Obviously not everything is, or ever will be, online. BUT can you reflect on what we DO have?! It's mind blowing.

Newspaper are a wonderful source of not just BMDs, but to give us the full picture of what life was like in an area at a particular time. It's family history and not just genealogy and that's what makes our ancestors REAL. HINT: I have found it easiest to use the Browse the Collection option.

Happy Searching!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Swedish FREE for the weekend

Another offering for this weekend? Sheesh!! Anyway, for Swedish researchers

Happy Searching!

Don't Be Alarmed

Whenever a website is FREE the traffic overwhelms the servers and the speed slows d.o.w.n, sometimes to almost zero, at times taking the servers right down for a bit. Remember it's FREE so try at off-peek hours (off peek at least for the USA and the UK).


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Poland Krakow 1880 Census online

Anyone who believes the message boards are for 'other people' and there's nothing there best take another look. Thanks to Thomas McEntee for posting this
Krakow Census 1880 online (instructions)

Postby logan » Tue Nov 04, 2014 4:26 pm
About two-thirds of the Krakow Census of 1880 is now viewable online for free, with (handwritten) name indices, thanks to Poland's National Archives in Krakow and National Digital Archives. I do not know whether the rest will be similarly available.

I do not have time now to provide detailed instructions, but perhaps someone else can (feel free to reply to this post to share any tips publicly). The general procedure is to first check the two name indices, which are roughly alphabetized by surname of the head of household:

When you find an index entry for a person of interest, record the two numbers next to it in the "Lizcba domu" and "Dziel. miasta" columns (e.g., 50 and VIII).

Then, visit, which has links to groups of census images, and find the link that includes "Dz." followed by your "Dziel. miasta" number (Roman numerals) and has a "nr" range including your "Lizcba domu" number (Arabic numerals). For example, if your numbers are 50 and VIII, the link you want is "Spis ludnosci 1880, Dz. VIII, nr 25-67, T. 19."

After following that link, search for a census image that looks like a spreadsheet and has your "Liczba domu" number (e.g, 50) in the top right. There might be several with the same "Liczba domu" number, and one or more should have information about the person/family of interest.

Along the way, you will need to enlarge thumbnail images (by clicking on them), and possibly enlarge even further (by clicking on the icon that looks like a white rectangle on a black circle near the bottom right of the first enlargement). Fully enlarged images can be saved to your computer ("Download" link below the image).

Good grief ............ HOW is a person ever to get anything done with all these new and exciting genealogy sites being made available???? No, not complaining, but those boxes downstairs are just going to have to wait a bit longer - well they've been there for almost 6 years so what's the rush? Hahaha

Happy Searching!

Irish Census ca1659

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!! Spent a little time searching through this census last night. Like so many people I don't know for sure if my Irish ancestors have always been in Ireland, or if they originated in Scotland, England or elsewhere. Sooooooo, this is nothing conclusive BUT I did discover 11 GILMORE entries listed as 'Irish' in this census AND in the same area of County Down, NI that my Grandfather was born in 1872. Oh man, now all I want to do is really get thinking about how to get back there. With all the traveling I've been lucky enough to do, Ireland is by far my favorite! Just too bad its winters aren't warm. :-(

Anyway, now that I've rattled on, for anyone who is still reading here is the link

Now I'm delving back into it to see who else I can find.

Happy Searching!

FMP - FREE weekend!

From midday, Friday November 7th to midday on Monday, November 10th (GMT), you’ll be able to access from FindMyPast:

• Birth, death and marriage records from the USA, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand

• Travel and migration records from all over the world

• Millions of newspaper pages from countries that include Germany, France, China, Denmark, Ireland and the USA

• Military records from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, as well as our WW1 collections to ensure that everyone has the chance to trace their family this Remembrance weekend.

There is no need to do anything to your account, just sign in as normal over the weekend and you’ll be able to explore our record sets from around the world.

In addition, you can tune in to our free Remembrance Weekend Live Broadcast at 3pm on Saturday, November 8th (GMT), where some of our family history experts will be giving you advice to help you make the most of your research.
To find out more about the Free Weekend and our Live Broadcast, visit today.

A few years back I found my Scottish grandmother and her son [my Dad] on a ship bound for Canada. I had already found them arriving in Canada, so I debated on spending the money to also buy this one [their departure port records]. I finally coughed up the dough and purchased the record from FindMyPast and was totally surprised to find different information when comparing the two ships manifest records [what most call 'ships passenger lists']. Nothing contradictory ... but additional info I would not have had otherwise.

This is a great opportunity to try the site out without spending even that 1 pound I wrote about a couple days ago. What have you got to lose when it's "FREE"!! Hahaha

Happy Searching!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

More FREE Stuff

Mark your calendars for these! Spectacular FREE webinars in 2015. Huge variety of topics. Have a peek


Monday, November 3, 2014

FindMyPast - HURRY

Until Wednesday Nov. 5th you can get 1 month access to FindMyPast for only 1 British pound!! WOW!!! I just bought mine so I know it works, but you need to be quick and go through this site

I LOVE a bargain!! Hope you get in. These offers sometimes appear, but boy do you have to be fast as they've only given us a day.

***** it's important to always read the fine print! If you do you will learn that this subscription will 'auto renew' each month ... SO, if you only want the 1 pound for 1 month you need to go into your account on FindMyPast and remove the check from the autorenew option. It's very simple to do, but if you don't you can expect to be charged the full price for each month. Have you ever heard me say "Read, Read, Read?" hahaha


Hungarian Genealogy - Austro Hungarian Empire

Thanks to FamilyTree University for the following:

"What do you get when you mix together a mishmash of ethnicities, a powerful political union and an exodus of emigrants, then let it stew for several generations? I'm referring, of course, to the genealogical goulash cooked up by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. By the time Eastern European immigrants were flocking to America between 1880 and 1920, Austria-Hungary had swallowed up the center of the Continent-including areas of present-day Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine.

As a result, the 1.4 million Americans who claim Magyar ancestry share their Hungarian roots with people whose ancestors came from all over Eastern Europe. They also share a number of genealogical challenges: confusing geography, unfamiliar languages, and surname and place name changes."

Tips for Researching Hungarian Roots

Among the biggest difficulties you'll encounter in conducting Hungarian research is translating complicated names and places. That's because tracing your family in Hungary relies on two key pieces of information-the immigrant's original name and the ancestral town or village. Here an excerpt from Hungarian Genealogy 101 for decoding names.

An immigrant's name is often your first stumbling block when you begin searching for records, especially online. You may think certain surnames are unique-Balog, Horváth, Kovács, Nagy, etc.-but in reality they might be as common in Hungary as Smiths and Johnsons are here, making surname searches of databases and indexes cumbersome or even impractical. You can find a list of the most frequent Hungarian surnames here

To use Hungarian records, you need to know your ancestors' original name in the old country-which might have changed multiple times after their arrival in America. Ask your living relatives for all possible spellings, and be wary if your Aunt Mary insists, "Our name has always been spelled this way" or "Our name was changed at Ellis Island." The Ellis Island story, though common in many families and popular lore, is a myth. So whatever your family tells you about ancestors' names and name changes, ask for documentation whenever possible.

Most immigrants changed their names themselves to be more American: Anglicizing the spelling, choosing an English equivalent or picking a new name entirely. This also applies to first names. Uncle John might've been János in the old country; Great-grandma Elizabeth, Erzébet.

Learning Hungarian naming customs will go a long way in helping you sort out your ancestor's correct, original name, especially when it comes to searching in Hungarian parish registers. For instance, there is usually just one given name and one surname. Hungarians commonly put their family names before their given names, the reverse of most Western cultures.

Hungarian surnames usually derived from common sources such as trades (tailor, miller), human characteristics (white, small), ethnic origins, place names or the like. For example, Szabó, Mihály could translate to Michael (or Mike) Taylor. If your ancestor was nobility, his title would appear before the surname: gróf Gábor Lajos would be Count Louis Gabor.

While common in other parts of Europe, patronymics-the practice of creating last names from the name of one's father, usually the father's given name, or from the paternal side of the family-generally weren't used in Hungary.

One naming practice to keep in mind for your female ancestors: Women often don't appear by their own name, but by adding the suffix -né to her husband's. For example, Great-grandma might show up as Kovács Mátyásné (equivalent to Mrs. Mátyás Kovács) instead of Anna Kovács."

Course Details: Hungarian Genealogy 101
Date: 11/17 - 12/12
Length: 4 weeks
Price: $99.99
Instructor: Lisa A. Alzo
Register NowLearn more in Hungarian Genealogy 101!

PS. I have never taken a course from here so I cannot personally recommend, but I do know the instructor Lisa A. Alzo and she is GREAT!

Cheerio on a still brown day!