This is a look back at the different resources that I used ikn my Genealogy research.
When I first started my genealogy research (early 1990s), I of course interviewed my parents and then later my aunts and uncles to find out what they remembered. Sadly, my grandparents Sinotte had both passed away long before I became interested in my family history.
I started with a known location of my grandparents according to the stories that my dad told me and I was manually through the church registry index to find a posting (birth, death or marriage of any Sinotte at that location – and later added Loiselle’s once I learned of that connection). It was really hard at the beginning and for some reason, even after years of trying, I couldn’t even find my great grandfather. But it turned out I was looking in the wrong places – which was a significant lesson learned about how unreliable oral histories can be.
The biggest breakthrough that I had was when my uncle Vic remembered having a copy of the Will of a his great-uncle George. It was this document that provided clarification of some of the oral histories that I had been working from previously. That allowed me to refine my research and from there I was able to find ancesters and cousins much easier and was finally able to find documentation on my great grandfather!
Initially I did most of my genealogy research at the local library (I was in Toronto at that time using North York Genealogy Library), using such tools as the Loiselle Index.
Later, I also have some great memories of road trips through the Eastern Townships – my favourite road trip was with my aunt Ray – visiting local churches directly. Both poring through the original church registers but also walking through the cemeteries and reading the headstones. You really get a sense of the community of my ancesters might have been like – maybe the others in the cemetery were some of my ancesters friends and neighbors.
Probably my first on-line resource that I used was www.FamilySearch.com which is an online tool by LDS. It includes researcher postings (which aren’t always accurate), census data and Marriage indexes among other sources. I loved the 1880/1881 Census data that it had. The census gave a snap shot of a family unit at that point in time which really helped to speed up research.
Then years later, the 1901 Census images were available on-line – then even later, the 1901 and 1911 Census index became available at www.automatedgenealogy.com. It was first the 1901 Census was posted without an index so I was poring through the pages looking for names, but one the index was available, it was even better. And then they posted the 1911 census. The original images are really helpful because I was able to learn more about person, when they were married, how many children they had. When I started researching some of the Sinotte’s and Loiselle’s in the US, the census data provided additional information depending on the years from 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 census – I was able to learn about their family, where they were born, when they were married, their occupation, their street address, the value of their home, their annual income, depending on the census year and the questions asked that year.
And then just recently www.ancestry.ca provides online access to Drouin church registries. I can look up almost anything that I might want to right from home.
The internet is really making genealogy research sources totally accessible to everyone.
The internet has also been a great enabler for genealogist like myself because the internet has allowed me to meet other genealogist enthusiasts from far and wide that share the same interests and offer Randomm Acts of Genealogy Kindness (RAOGK) to help me look something up, look at a tough problem differently and perhaps find and recommend new sources. And when I have the chance to return the favor for someone else, it feels great.
Through the internet, I have meet many Sinotte/Loiselle cousins as well. Originally through message boards – there is even a message board for Loiselle Surname which is where I met Donna, a Loiselle cousin in the states, who is an extraordinary researcher from what she shared with me. And it was starting in 2003 that I came across Mailing lists and in particular the Q-R list where I met Best Bill – he isn’t related to Loiselle’s that I know of, but is just one of the amazingly helpful people that I met through this list and others.
… and then, very recently, Facebook and other social networking tools make it even easier to connect with cousins. Facebook even has a “So your name is Loiselle, Too” group set up!
So that is a bit about the progression of my research process… I will likely recall more over time. I should have kept better notes!