Book Review: “New Pocket Guide to Irish Genealogy”

New Pocket Guide to Irish Genealogy cover

Being the owner of the Second Edition of the “Pocket Guide to Irish Genealogy” (2002), I was glad to review this all-new, revised and expanded version of the book. Irish genealogy can be challenging, and Ireland’s history has had an impact on researching Irish ancestors.

As in previous editions, the book contains a concise outline of the history of Ireland and how it applies to genealogical research. The book contains the maps, as well as definitions of geographical and administrative areas that you will need to know while researching Irish ancestors.

If your ancestors emigrated from Ireland, your research needs to begin at home. The book gives brief insights into how to start in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada and Great Britain.

The author asserts that using seven (7) major record sources, a researcher should be able to go six or seven generations back in their family tree in Ireland. This distance may be impeded when ancestors in the same place have the same or similar names, or the records may not exist. A beginning researcher would benefit from learning of these sources; an intermediate researcher is probably aware of them, but might benefit from knowing more details about how to access and use them. There are also a variety of other records, some of them potentially less obvious, that are introduced and may prove useful for placing an Irish ancestor at a place during a certain time.

The “Pocket Guide to Irish Genealogy” was originally published in 1991, revised in 2002 and revised again in 2008. This new 2020 edition is expanded from previous editions, and Irish researchers may find it worth the investment to upgrade to the 2020 edition.

This 2020 edition represents a major effort to include the ever-growing number of resources that have become accessible online. Although the Second Edition did have a chapter about “Irish Genealogy and the Internet,” this new edition contains more timely and relevant information. A new section that organizes “Insights and Strategies” includes expanded and new content. There is a three-step guide to tracing your Irish ancestors, which is followed by a case study demonstrating how to employ the steps. In the new content includes a brief chapter about when and how to DNA. Identifying genetic cousins and collaborating with them to pool records and held  family is definitely a way to pool

The book includes specific details and expands on how to use the strategies with ample examples. Included in the examples, the author embeds a demonstration of how to extract data from the available records, which readers might find helpful to organize the data they collect during their research. The case study of a Scots-Irish ancestor may be especially helpful if this is an area of your research.

This book is dense with usable information, and it may take a while to digest. A researcher might choose to work through this book as an instructive text. A researcher could benefit from taking the time to read through the book slowly, focusing on a record set or strategy, and then applying what was read to their own research. This approach could be more useful than sitting down and reading the book from cover-to-cover. The book can also serve as a reference for a researcher building a family tree.

The term “pocket guide” is a bit of a misnomer; you would need large pockets to carry this book around with you! Cosmetically, I found the font in this latest version was easier on my eyes than that of the Second Edition.

Mitchell’s work to revise and update this book was worth the amount of work he so obviously invested. With its updated and relevant content, it is worth considering upgrading to the 2020 edition in your genealogical library.

“New Pocket Guide to Irish Genealogy” by Brian Mitchell is available at Genealogical.com.

Book review: “From the Emerald Isle to the Cream City”

I had a chance to review “From the Emerald Isle to the Cream City: A History of the Irish in Milwaukee” by Carl Baehr.

In family history, context is incredibly important. “From the Emerald Isle to the Cream City: A History of the Irish in Milwaukee” gives the reader that context of the Irish experience of settling in Milwaukee, along with the concurrent history of Ireland. If your family includes the initial settlers of Milwaukee or the famous or infamous, you may find details of their lives among the pages. Even if your family members are not named, you will still find be able to understand the more about their lives and times while living in the “Cream City.”

From the “Note of Street Names” that begins the book, you know that you can expect a well-researched work. The author has produced a well-written narrative, sharing citations for the material he used. The book takes the reader on a trip from the beginning of Milwaukee to the present day, focusing on the Irish in the city’s Third Ward. You learn how Milwaukee recruited immigrants and how they traveled, settled and lived. There are the stories of neighborhoods, schools, work and politics.

Mr. Baehr is a great storyteller. As you read through the chapters of the book, the history unfolds decade by decade. It is as if he is sitting with you, setting the stage for the events that will unfold, then immersing you in the stories of the people involved. He finishes their tales, telling what became of them after their notoriety.

The Irish-born population faced significant challenges in the city. Even their eligibility for citizenship was questioned by those who forgot that immigrants may have spent time living closer to ports before their arrival in Milwaukee.

The book describes the events that shaped the Irish community, such as the impact of the loss of life to the Third Ward in the tragic sinking of the Lady Elgin and the Leahey Riot. The experiences of Milwaukee’s Irish soldiers in the Civil War is detailed.

The Appendices contain useful reference material for students of the Irish in Milwaukee. The author shares his research into the miscalculation of Irish born Milwaukeeans in the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Federal Censuses; a list of the victims and survivors of the Lady Elgin; and the victims of the Newhall House Hotel Fire.

Mr. Baehr tells compelling stories about the Irish in Milwaukee and of the city itself. Students of Milwaukee’s history and those interested in the history of the Irish in America will also enjoy this book.

You can learn more about the book here.

Get Your Irish Civil Records Online!

If you have Irish ancestors, you need to be using the Civil Records at IrishGenealogy.ie This website will be a major boon to your research. Using this website, I was able to look up and download records that would have cost quite a bit to order from overseas.

The Civil Records that are online are:

  • Births: 1864 to 1915
  • Marriages: 1882 to 1940
  • Deaths: 1891 to 1965

A good place to start is the page about the Civil Records:

https://www.irishgenealogy.ie/en/civil-records/help/what-are-the-civil-records

 

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To search, go to https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/civil-search.jsp

 

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Give the simple search form a try. In fact, I found this form to be the most useful.

The first thing I did was to download the images for my Grandfather’s and his siblings birth records. I knew the Civil Registration District/Office, and their dates of birth. The children were born between 1882 and 1902.

When you begin to type into that field a drop down menu appears. You can always leave that field blank to search all the counties.

 

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After pressing the Search button, I had to check a box to prove that I was not a robot.

Then I had to give my name to search the archives.

 

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When I used 1894 with no end to the range, the results ranged from 1894 through to the last year of the database.

 

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The records before 1900 did not have the Mother’s Birth Surname indexed. From 1900 on, the search results show the Mother’s Birth Surname.

You can select “More search options” to use additional search options.

The additional search options restrict the search.

 

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I clicked on the result that was my Grandfather’s.

 

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I clicked on the image button to see the whole page of the register.

 

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My Grandfather was listed as entry number 59. The section on the right was used for comments in other entries.

 

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For one of his siblings there was an image of the record, and the certified record.

Then I downloaded his Mother’s birth record.

Next came his parent’s marriage record. For the end of the session, I downloaded the death record for his Father and Sister.

 

A Broader Search

For some ancestors, their county of birth is not yet known. I left the District/Registration field blank. I can now search each record to see if I could find the ancestor.

 

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I knew the ancestor’s mother’s name from her death certificate, so I searched a timeframe around her birth year. There were two birth records that matched the mother’s name. One of those two had a father’s name that matched the name of one of her sons. However, he son’s father had the same name, so it is not firm evidence.

 

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There is more work to be done, but this is a good lead. I am going to review my atDNA test results to see if any clues are hiding in the matches.

An interesting article by John Grenham can be found here: https://www.johngrenham.com/blog/2016/10/03/roadmap-of-the-promised-land/

Give this a try, and let me know how you do!

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