Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Find Canadian Genealogy Articles

Although journal articles may be considered as only for use by academics to support their research, they are also a fabulous resource for genealogists.This exercise will look at how genealogy societies provide access to their well researched articles.

Further in this article is a brief look at two commercial providers of journal articles that are reaching out to the genealogical community providing research at a specialist level. These articles will provide context to the community that your family was a part of and give an understanding of the history of the places where they lived.

Of interest to the genealogist are online resources via your local library such as Academic Search Elite, JSTOR, Newspaper Source Plus, and my favourite, PressReader, formerly PressDisplay. More information below.

Family History Society Indexes

Many family history societies in Canada provide an index to their complete journal issues on their website. Although the indexes are available, the digitized copies of their journals are usually provided via membership requiring you to sign in to access the articles. This is a hidden resource of rich genealogical research as many articles are by family historians writing a detailed account of their research into their family! Can you find that on Ancestry?

OGS publication Families

Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia - their journal - The Nova Scotia Genealogist provide access to electronic editions via Find My Past. Members have access to years 1972-1982. They also provide free access to articles of historical interest, including: Vital Statistics (BMDs) from Kings County newspapers 1866-1899 and those killed in the Halifax explosion on Dec.6 1917.

Family History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador provides access to the Table of Contents of their journal the Newfoundland Ancestor.

The Ontario Genealogical Society's journal - Families Index 1962-2007  - this is a 306 page PDF, which would be best used as a reference tool. Use Ctrl+F (find) to find articles of the subject you are interested in.  Don't forget that the The Ontario Name Index - TONI - provided by the Ontario Genealogical Society - is a fabulous resource.

The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) has made available on its website more than 20 years of its journal, Anglo-Celtic Roots. Journal issues published within the last 12 months are accessed only if you have a membership. Some of the articles: 'The Aftermath of the Christmas Blitz (Story of the Morton family) and 'We Shall Remember Them' (Sapper William Victor Demery).'

The Manitoba Genealogical Society provides access to it's journal Generations to members. They are indexed in the 'MANI' database. They also provide a sample copy of a very early copy of Generations on this page. Volume 5, Number 1  An extra resource:  Manitoba Name Index

The Saskatchewan Genealogical Society - Saskatchewan Genealogical Society Index to the Bulletin 1970-2013

The Alberta Genealogical Society's publication, Relatively Speaking,  is also indexed by title on their website.

The BC Genealogical Society's journal - British Columbia Genealogist - indexes are available online.

Of course, there are many, many other journals available via : 

PERSI - Periodical Source Index - If you don't know about PERSI, it is an online index which provides access to thousands of articles in Canadian Family History Journals. It is available now through Find My Past. An article about PERSI via Encyclopedia of Genealogy

This index is manually created by the staff at Allen County Public Library (ACPL) in Fort Wayne, Indiana.The Genealogy department at ACPL is a large, well-respected team of librarians some of whom are also genealogists. In the early days, you definitely needed to know exactly which article you wanted to find, whereas today, there is a straight forward search box on Find My Past.

Chinook journal of the
Alberta Family History Society
An explanation from the Find My Past page: "The Periodical Source Index is compiled quarterly by the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and will be simultaneously updated on Find My Past. Along with these updates, Find My Past is also working to provide access to the same articles indexed in PERSI through our site. Images from PERSI-indexed articles are regularly added every month."

Commercial Offers

JSTOR and Gale Cengage, two of the largest electronic subscription companies provide access to a unique product for genealogy researchers. Their target market are particularly university libraries and specialist archives, such as Library and Archives Canada, and the subscription is comparable to the other costly online reference resources such as the Oxford Reference suite or Academic Search Elite. Of course, this is an economic move for the vendors, but it can be a boon for the genealogist, and they must be accessed onsite at a library in your area. Later in this article is a brief investigation into some of the major public libraries in Canada.

Geneanet for Premium Members only. Geneanet explains it's goals as 'helping family history researchers to share their data'. A Map For The Genealogy Society Indexes - the members of Geneanet share information about 400 million individuals. They also offer access in several different languages. Their 'About Us' page has much more information. Although they state they hold genealogy society indexes, it seems from the TandCs that the headquarters is in Paris, France.

JSTOR- offers the database JSTOR for Genealogists. JSTOR Pass is a pay-as-you-go subscription option. An online magazine, JSTOR Daily, highlights articles in an eight-part series: The Genealogy Factor column written by respected genealogist D. Joshua Taylor.  Introduction to the use of JSTOR by Alicia Williams, one of the staff of the NEHGS on their blog, Vita Brevis.

John Reid, a well known Ottawa genealogist, has provided a number of thought provoking articles about the benefits of JSTOR for genealogy in Canada, including discussion around LAC's offer of electronic resources.

GALE CengageGale Genealogy Connect
Listed below are a few results from my investigations into the online resources offered by larger public libraries across Canada.
It would be interesting to hear from family history societies, libraries or archives if they currently provide either of these databases for their genealogy users.
  • NEHGS - New England Historic Genealogical Society provides a discount to JSTOR to members
  • Ontario Genealogical Society offers JSTOR Pass to it's members.
  • Toronto Public Library provide access to JSTOR and Gale Cengage, but I didn't find Gale Genealogy Connect or JSTOR Pass. TPLs link Articles & Online Research
  • Ottawa Public Library requires a sign in to get access to their A-Z list of online resources. 
  • Vancouver Public Library provides access to 4 Gale products but not JSTOR. 
  • Winnipeg Public Library has EbscoHost but not GaleCengage or JSTOR.
  • Interestingly, Edmonton Public Library has Heritage Quest Online and a few Gale products but not JSTOR.
  • It was not apparent if access to Gale products includes access to Gale Genealogy Connect.
  • If you live in a rural area, you don't need to make an arduous trip into the city, as your local library will have access to various online resources via the larger library 'consortium', ie: Chinook Arch Library System (Alberta) or Regional Library District. Most of these resources you can access from home with your membership details. Ask your librarian for help.

Other Online Resources
Of course, don't overlook the electronic resources that your local library or archive provides, such as: Academic Search Elite, Gale Primary Resources, MasterFILE Premier and Newspaper Source Plus, Southern Alberta Newspaper Collection and Explora Canada (as found on Marigold and Chinook Arch Library Systems in Alberta). 

One of my favourites is Pressreader (access with your library membership) which provides access to the entire issues of current newspapers (including international newspapers) online. Available in select libraries. Great for looking up long lost cousins! 

These electronic resources are normally available with your membership number and can be accessed from home. However, you must access these resources via the library's webpage. Some libraries also provide links to free online resources such as Dictionary of Canadian Biography. As well, specialty local information that has been digitized is provided online by libraries, particularly larger city libraries or university libraries. Ask your librarian for help.

Be Proactive!

If we as genealogists want access to these types of resources we must make sure that we describe our needs to our local librarians and emphasize that this online information is valuable to our research. Their decision to subscribe to these resources is a result of consultations, budget and critical analysis. Often they are not aware that these types of resources are of value to the genealogist, so we must be vocal and present a strong case! Consider it a valuable exercise for the common genealogical good!


  1. The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa has made available on its website more than 20 years of its journal, Anglo-Celtic Roots. Only journals published within the last 12 months are behind the Members Only wall. https://bifhsgo.ca/clist.php?nm=108

  2. I looked at the Genealogy Connect information and it appears to be mostly American based, though there are some books in the collection that are useful for Canadians as well. That might explain why Canadian libraries aren't spending limited resources on this particular database, preferring to spend it on Ancestry Library Edition and, I imagine, buying books for the collection, paper and electronic.

  3. Thank you Gail for the information about the BIFHSGO journals. Certainly is a fabulous resource and it's a very sensible approach in how the content is provided online to genealogists. I will add the information to the article. Thanks again!

  4. Hello Teresa - thank you very much for looking into Genealogy Connect. Libraries certainly have to be very careful where they allocate their budgets. It sounded interesting though, so I had to put the word out to see if anyone knew about it. Appreciate your time and efforts! Tx!