Military Monday: Connecticut in World War I

Does your family have original material from World War I, such as service records, photos, and more? Are you researching an ancestor’s experience during the War?

Be sure to check out Connecticut in World War I ( Run by the Connecticut State Library, the site includes a list of World War I events, details on their efforts to digitize historic documents, access to the digitized collections, and more.

If you’re researching the little documented World War I period, this resource is priceless.

Happy hunting!


Connecticut Resident?: Did you know you can get free database access?

Using Fold3, The New York Times, or other databases for personal research? Are you a Connecticut resident? Did you know that you can get access to a number of genealogy databases for home for free?

All you need is a Connecticut State Library card. To get one, complete this application and mail it back. The card will be mailed to you.

Once you receive it, go to the database section on the Connecticut State Library website. Anything with an open lock or a blue library card image can be accessed from home. Just be sure to read the directions on the log in screen.


Those Places Thursday: Forget the state border in 1700s research

A researcher had hit a brick wall and a quick review of their tree revealed why. They’d stopped searching for the parents of a woman at the Connecticut border – and she was from Ipswich, MA.

Prior to late nineteenth century, the fastest way to travel in New England was by water. Can’t find your shoreline ancestor in state? Remember to check ports in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York.

Happy hunting!

Tuesday’s tip: Sorry Williams researchers, Philendra and Roderick are not husband and wife…

It’s a well documented “fact” in many Ely family histories…

Sally Pratt (Williams) Ely is the daughter of Roderick Williams. And Philendra is his wife..

Except that fact is wrong. Sort of… And finding out the truth requires digging into some little used Connecticut collections.

The first is the probate file for Roderick, digitized on Ancestry as part of the Connecticut Probate Collection. Problem one: he lists Philendra as his sister, not his wife…

The second is the Connecticut Church Record Abstracts, also digitized on Ancestry, which reveal that Philendra baptized two children as hers in 1822. One of them was Sally. It’s unusual for a woman to bring the children to be baptized unless she’s a single mother…

So, was Roderick Sally’s father? Records suggest that she was biologically his niece, the daughter of his sister. Her legal status is anyone’s guess…

And why the genealogies? Being an illegitimate child, no matter how well funded, had stigma. Family historians may have been trying to protect Sally’s reputation.

Research tip: Connecticut Newspapers have been digitized

Looking for Connecticut newspapers? Contrary to what you may have heard, a few of Connecticut’s historic editions are available online…

  1. The Hartford Courant is available to Connecticut residents on Notice missing years? They can be accessed with a Connecticut State Library card on
  2. The New London Day is on Google News at
  3. Smaller run newspapers from Bridgeport, New Haven and Norwich are on Chronicling America and from smaller towns on Newspapers of Connecticut.

Happy hunting!

Worth it? Irish records on Find My Past

Find My Past is celebrating St Patrick’s Day with free access to Irish records through tomorrow – and of course, I had to try it out.

My conclusion: unless your family left Ireland in the late nineteenth century or were land owners, it probably isn’t worth your time.

Find My Past is known for its index to the Irish parish registers. Digitized but not indexed by the National Library of Ireland, these parish records are one of the few ways to trace Catholic families prior to the 1840s. Once Find My Past made the registers searchable, finding your ancestors should have gotten much easier.

Unfortunately, at least with the names I tried, the search function doesn’t work. I checked two names, for whom I have birth dates and locations. One I know has a baptismal entry; the other I’m not sure about. Neither name returned results.

So, what did work? There are decent number of entries for births in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century… and if your ancestor was wealthy, you might get a will.

So, you might get something interesting- but don’t rely on Find My Past to trace your early Irish family.